Africa’s Woman at The Hague
On Friday June 15, 2012, Gambian-born international criminal justice Lawyer Fatou Bensouda rose to the highest position of Chief Prosecutor, at the International Criminal Court (ICC), in The Hague, Netherlands.
She becomes the first African to hold the position since the establishment of the ICC some ten years ago. The ICC's mandate is to prosecute individuals for genocide crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.
Bensouda's accession is, and will for years to come be a significant representation not only for her as a person but for the continent she comes from, and where she learnt the ropes of becoming a good Lawyer - Africa.
Her rise to the position comes at a time when the ICC is facing a lot of pressure from the African Union for what the union feels, is the international court's lack of even-handedness in dealing with cases from the region, and how the ICC can do a lot to prove its innocence over claims of selective justice perceived by some of member states of the AU.
It is a very difficult subject that puts Bensouda in a very tough and tight corner. Over the next few days at post, a lot of eyes will be on her, ostensibly to gauge how she will respond directly or indirectly to the concerns of the Africa Union, and sections of civil society, on calls for the ICC to be fair in dealing with all subjects.
But the ICC's critics may also admit that the call for a fair and balanced court at that highest point of international geopolitics go way beyond the doorstep of Bensouda, as it usually takes more than just the effort of one person at the ICC to take such decisions, to be seen as being fair or not.
"Although many Africans consequently feel that the court is an imperialist vehicle, controlled by the West and intent on undermining sovereignty on the continent, there is also a significant body of thought that Africa should be proud to be at the forefront of international criminal justice.