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Fatou Bensouda among 100 most influential people in the world

Apr 20, 2012, 2:16 PM

Gambian-born Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Fatou Bom Bensouda has been named among the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine of the United States.

The appointment of Mrs Bensouda, who has been Mr Moreno-Ocampo’s deputy throughout his tenure, was unanimously approved at a meeting of the legislative body of the ICC, the Assembly of States Parties (ASP), in New York in December last year.

Mrs Bensouda, a former senior legal adviser at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which is trying key figures responsible for the 1994 genocide in the Central African state, got the job ahead of three other short-listed candidates.

Expected to take office as chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on June 16, Fatou who will be serving as the court’s second prosecutor and the first African woman to assume the top job at an international tribunal, faces daunting challenges in advancing the court’s significant, but still fragile, progress.

“Her mission is to prosecute those responsible for the most serious crimes; genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanitywhen domestic courts and prosecutors fail.

Among those accused by the court are Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saif and Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony,” the Time said in its website.

“Bensouda, 51, brings many years of experience to the job, as a prosecutor in Gambia, on the international tribunal prosecuting Rwanda’s genocidaires and as deputy ICC prosecutor for eight years. Thoughtful, soft-spoken, yet determined and forceful, Bensouda has been a leading voice pressing governments to support the quest for justice, particularly in Africa,” it added.

Born on 31 January 1961, Fatou received a bachelor-in-law degree from OAU University in Nigeria and a barrister in-law degree from the Nigeria Law School.

In addition, she holds a master’s degree in International Maritime Law and the Law of the Sea. This makes her the first international maritime law expert of The Gambia.

Bensouda was elected Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court by the Assembly of States Parties on 8th September 2004 and since then has headed and overseen the Prosecution Division ofthe Office of the Prosecutor.

Prior to her election, Bensouda served as Senior Legal Advisor and Head of the Legal Advisory Unit at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

In 2009, she received the International Jurists Award for her contributions to national and international criminal law.

Before joining the ICTR, she was the General Manager of a leading commercial bank in the country.

Between 1987 and 2000, she was successively Senior State Counsel, Principal State Counsel, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Solicitor General and Legal Secretary of the Republic of The Gambia, then Attorney General and Minister of Justice, in which capacity she served as Chief Legal Advisor to President Yahya Jammeh and his Cabinet.

Mrs 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, and the delegate of The Gambia to the meetings of the Preparatory Commission for the International Criminal Court.