(note: Fatou Bensouda replaces Luis Moreno-Ocampo)
LONDON, 30 July 2012 (IRIN) – That a war crimes court should focus on the victims of war crimes sounds like a simple concept.
But many of those living in the African communities where most of the atrocities being prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) took place, have long complained they have been forgotten by this controversial and costly institution based thousands of miles away. The new ICC prosecutor has pledged that victims – particularly women and children – will be her priority, but analysts worry that shrinking budgets could make her promises difficult to keep.
Fatou Bensouda said at her swearing-in speech in June that she would “focus on, and listen to, the millions of victims who continue to suffer from massive crimes…
“The return on our investment for what others may today consider to be a huge cost for justice is effective deterrence and saving millions of victims’ lives,” said Bensouda as she took over the ICC’s highest profile job from Luis Moreno-Ocampo. Gambia’s former justice minister and attorney-general served more than eight years as Ocampo’s deputy.
Sunil Pal, head of the legal section at the Coalition for the ICC, an advocacy organization comprising 2,500 civil society groups in 150 countries, expects Bensouda to bring her own unique approach to the role of prosecutor. He welcomes her diplomatic style and focus on victims.
“The tone is very positive [with Bensouda],” he said. “There is a real emphasis on working with victims and ensuring that the process is meaningful for the direct beneficiaries of this process – the victims. It is about recognizing the importance that victims play in this process and an acknowledgement and strengthening of that role.”