Fatou Bensouda is used to performing under pressure. After serving in Gambia’s ministry of justice and working with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Bensouda knows a thing or two about taking on some of the world’s most heinous and corrupt leaders. But recently she took on her toughest assignment: holding world leaders accountable for their crimes.
On Friday Bensouda was sworn in as the new chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), a nine-year post that will see her taking on those who commit unspeakable atrocities against their people.
Recently, the 51-year-old mother of two spoke about her new position to AllAfrica.com and explained the differences between being an international prosecutor and prosecuting national crimes.
When you get to the international level, the scale is different. You’re talking about hundreds and thousands of victims and perpetrators, about many killings and rapes at the same time… Also at the national level, prosecuting is not so difficult… [If] you want people arrested, you give orders and people are detained. You have access to your witnesses and the challenges of witness protection are not so great.
But when you come to the international level, these become huge challenges. Most of the time at the ICC, you’re operating in situations of ongoing conflict. The security situation on the ground is sometimes impossible…and because the prosecutor is the office that deploys first to the field, there is this huge responsibility to ensure that those who we talk to are not exposed…
Bensouda has a full plate with Joseph Kony, Omar al-Bashir, and growing issues in Kenya on her agenda. So it’s clear that she will be busy throughout her entire tenure with the court