• Tebogo Gantsa

October deadline for new ICC Prosecutor Applications


ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda's term of office comes to an end on June 2021. Source: International Criminal Court

The search is on and those who strive to fight for justice in the highest international court in the world only have until the end of October to apply.

The nine-year term of current International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, expires on June 15, 2021, and will need to be filled by that date. The five member Committee on the Election of the Prosecutor (CEP), and a panel of five experts, will assist the ICC in finding the right person for the position. The deadline to apply for the job of Prosecutor of the Court is set at October 31, 2019. The management oversight and legislative role of the court rests with the Assembly of Parties, with North Korean judge O-Gon Kwon as president. The Assembly of Parties composed by the 122 states who are signatories to the Rome Statute. Kwon said the CEP and its panel will help it attract the best candidates. “It is only through a transparent and structured process that the Assembly will be able to elect the highest qualified Prosecutor for the Court," Kwon said in a statement released on August 6.

Requirements for the spot

According to the job listing, a Master’s degree in law or its equivalent will suffice. Specialisation in criminal law is also important. This should be complemented with advanced knowledge of public international law, including comparative law, human rights law, humanitarian law and international criminal law.

Candidates with a relevant Bachelor’s degree may be accepted, if their qualification is augmented by relevant academic and qualifying experience. The qualification they hold must be on the level required for a position in the highest judicial office in their countries of origin.

The position of prosecutor is regarded as equivalent to that of the Under-Secretary General. According to the Rome Statute’s Article 42 (4), the prosecutor is elected through a secret ballot. To win, the candidate in question would need an absolute majority of votes from members of the Assembly of Parties. Once elected, the prosecutor is barred from engaging in activities that are likely to interfere with their functions and must stop engaging in any other professional occupation or work outside of their role.

The Rome Statute also puts an emphasis on balanced, ensuring proper representation of the global legal systems and equitable geographical representation.

Outgoing prosecutor: Fatou Bensouda

The incumbent Fatou Bensouda hails from Gambia. She was elected on December 12, 2011, and was sworn in as ICC prosecutor on June 15, 2012. In April 2019 she had her US visa revoked in an act deemed by many to be retaliation against her intent to investigate alleged war crimes by the American army and its allies in Afghanistan.

The court has presided over several other politically charged cases. Two include the dropping of charges against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, and the vacation of charges against his arch-rival William Ruto. The cases were linked to political violence that rocked Kenya soon after the 2007 election. The court also presided over cases linked to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and the Central African Republic. High profile cases against Sudan's deposed president Omar Al-Bashir, and against Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, the second son of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, are still in the pre-trial stage.

The court has also ordered people it has convicted to pay financial compensation to those who suffered as a result of their crimes. Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi has been ordered to pay reparations after the court found him guilty of directing attacks against historic monuments in Timbuktu. Germain Katanga and Thomas Lubanga Dyilo from the DRC were ordered to pay reparations for their respective roles in the violence perpetrated in the Ituri district in 2003.

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