- Category: Politics
- Published on Saturday, 16 June 2012 13:06
- Written by Mamamba Mamamba
FATOU BENSOUDA, the former Gambian justice minister and attorney general is sworn in today as the first African to be sworn in as the chief prosecutor of the international criminal court. This is indeed very welcome news to all justice seeking people and human rights organization the world over considering the intimidating, fearless,
courageous and genius-like resume of this highly respected daughter of Africa the world over.
Fatou B. Bensouda (born 31 January 1961) is a Gambian lawyer, former government civil servant, international criminal law prosecutor, prosecutor and legal adviser. She has been in charge as the international criminal courts’ chief prosecutor since June 2012, after having served as a Deputy Prosecutor in charge of the Prosecutions Division of the ICC since 2004
Bensouda has previously served as Solicitor-General of Gambia, as well as Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, advising both the President and Cabinet of the Gambia.
She has held positions of Legal Adviser and Trial Attorney at international criminal tribunal for Rwanda(ICTR).She has considerable experience in national criminal prosecutions, diplomatic work and company management.
Early life and education
Bensouda was born in Banjul, The Gambia. She attended primary and secondary school in the Gambia before leaving for Nigeria where she graduated from the University of Ife, with a bachelors(Hons) degree. She then obtained her Barrister-at-Law (BL) professional qualification from the Nigeria Law School After acquiring a Masters Of Law from the International Law Maritime Law Institute in Malta , she became the Gambia’s first expert in international maritime law and the Law Of The Sea.
Bensouda is married to a Gambian–Moroccan businessman and they have two children.
Lawyer, government civil servant, and company manager
Bensouda has had a long and distinguished national career in the Gambia in both private and public law. Between 1987 and 1993, she was successively Public Prosecutor, Senior State Counsel, and Principal State Counsel. Between 1993 and 1997, she served as Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions whilst also working as Lead Counsel to the Commission of Inquiry into the Financial Activities of Public Corporations: Presidential Commission of Enquiry 1994 (1994–1997). Subsequently, Bensouda was appointed as Solicitor-General and Legal Secretary of the Gambia (April 1997 to July 1998) before her appointment as Attorney-General and Secretary of State (Minister of Justice) of the Gambia (1998–2000). From March 2000 to January 2002, she was a Private Legal Practitioner at Ya Sadi, Bensouda and Co. Chambers in Banjul. She was also the General Manager of a leading commercial bank in the Gambia, the International Bank for Commerce (Gambia) Limited (January to May 2002).
Bensouda also took part in negotiations on the treaty of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the West African Parliament, and the ECOWAS Tribunal. She has been a delegate at United Nations’ conferences on crime prevention, the Organization of African Unity’s Ministerial Meetings on Human Rights, as well as the delegate of the Gambia to the meetings of the Preparatory Commission for the International Criminal Court.
International criminal prosecutor and legal adviser
Bensouda’s international career as a non-government civil servant formally began at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, where she worked as a Legal Adviser and Trial Attorney before rising to the position of Senior Legal Advisor and Head of the Legal Advisory Unit (May 2002 to August 2004).
On 8 August 2004, she was elected as Deputy Prosecutor (Prosecutions) with an overwhelming majority of votes by the Assembly of State Parties of the International Criminal Court. On 1 November 2004, Bensouda was sworn into Office as Deputy Prosecutor (Prosecutions).
On 1 December 2011 the Assembly of States Parties of the ICC announced that an informal agreement had been reached to make Bensouda the consensus choice to succeed Luis Moreno-Ocampo as Prosecutor of the ICC. She was formally elected by consensus on 12 December 2011. Her term as Prosecutor is expected to begin in June 2012.
Awards and honours
Bensouda has been the recipient of various awards, most notably, the distinguished ICJ International Jurists Award (2009), which was presented by President of India P. D. Patil. Bensouda was given this award for her contributions to criminal law both at the national and International level. Bensouda has also been awarded the 2011 World Peace Through Law Award presented by the Whitney Harris World Law Institute, Washington University, which recognized her work in considerably advancing the rule of law and thereby contributing to world peace.
Time magazine listed Mrs. Bensouda among the 100 most influential people in the world in its annual Time 100 issue.
Bensouda has been named by the leading African Magazine, Jeune Afrique, as the 4th most Influential Personality in Africa in the Civil Society Category. and one of the 100 most Influential African Personalities.
Professional or board membership
Bensouda is a member of the International Association of Prosecutors, the Gambian Bar Association and the Nigerian Bar Association. She is also a member of the International Advisory Council of the International Board of Maritime Healthcare (since 2000); the Professional Women's Advisory Board (since 2000); the Board of Directors of The Gambia Committee on Harmful Traditional Practices GAMCOTRAP (National Branch of The Inter African Committee); and the Executive Committee of the Marina International School in the Gambia (since 1994). She has been a member of the Advisory Board of the African Centre For Democracy and Human Rights Studies (1998–2000) and The Gambia High School Board of Governors (1992–1995), as well as the 1st Vice President of The Gambia National Olympics Committee (GNOC).
From Human Rights to International Criminal Law (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers) Chapter by Bensouda on "Gender and Sexual Violence under The Rome Statute"
"International Criminal Law in an African Context" by Hassan Jallow and Fatou Bensouda - Chapter 2 of The African Guide to International Criminal Justice; First published by the Institute for Security Studies (2008) www.issafrica.org
International Criminal Justice: Law and Practice from The Rome Statute to its Review (Farnham: ASHGATE, 2010) - Chapter 6 by Bensouda "Challenges Related to Investigations and Prosecutions at the International Criminal Court"