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ICC Prosecutor says the ICC has had an eventful start to 2019

By Mohamed Konneh

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Fatou Bensouda has said the ICC has an eventful start to 2019 with series of challenges confronting the court.

Fatou Bensouda was speaking during a visit by West African journalists to the court at the start of April this year. The journalists were mainly from Sierra Leone, Ghana, Liberia, and The Gambia, a visit supported and funded by the Duct Embassy in Senegal.

Madam Bensouda draw the attention of journalists to the recent development such as the acquittal and subsequent release with conditions of Laurent Gbabo and Charles Ble Goude in relation to the situation in Cote d’Ivoire, or the appurtenance of Alfred Yakatom and Patrice-Edoured Nagssona and subsequent scheduling of a confirmation hearing in the case emanating from investigations in the Central African Republic.

‘If not perhaps the recent public statement by the US Secretary of State announcing a policy of visa restriction against ICC personnel. Given the importance of the court’s work and complex mandate, it will always invite intrigue” she said.

The ICC Prosecutor said the court by design and practice aims to challenge the historical entrenched standards of impunity for atrocity crimes, in particular when committed by those responsible in positions of power and influence.

She said this was the promise of Rome in 1998 and the treaty that bears its name-that never again will perpetrators irrespective of rank or status can escape justice for the world’s most egregious and destabilizing crimes.

‘As I say, no single advance in human progress has travelled the path of least resistance. We remain committed to our independent and impartial mandate under the Rome Statute and will continue to honour our legal duty, undeterred.

We must be prepared for such realities that come with the territory. That preparedness by definition also requires seeking and being able to rely on the principle and vocal assistance of the court supporters.’

Madam Bensouda noted that the media can play a crucial role in disseminating truth and factual information and making accessible to affected communities, other stakeholders and the public at large, the complex intricate criminal processes are therefore critical important.

The ICC Prosecutor noted that since the start up in 2003, the ICC including her office has been learning how to deal with the obstinacy of the multifaceted environment in which it operates. It is of vital importance to the gradually expanding international climate of accountability that the affected communities, but also the public at large, understand and get involved in the struggle to end impunity.

“As such, the role of the journalists is paramount, both in responding to the information needs of the communities concerned and in keeping them aware of the issues involved in a fair trial.

With a number of successful trails and convictions, the Court has already bolstered international efforts to combat the use of child soldiers, widespread sexual violence and the destruction of cultural heritage.

In the immediate future my office’s aim is to build on these successes through various cases on the docket or for which the ICC judges have issued a warrant following applications by my office’. She said.

At the moment, the ICC has ongoing trail proceedings against the Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda, who is awaiting the verdict of the ICC judges as well as against Dominic Ongwen, the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army brigade commander, whose Defence is currently responding to the case presented by the prosecution.

Another case that is of Al =-Hassan relating to events in Timbuktu, Mali, is being prepared for hearing starting on the 6th May to confirm the charges brought against him by the office of the prosecutor.

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