PARTING SHOT

Bensouda's advice to new Hague Prosecutor Khan as she exits ICC stage

"Set-backs were encountered with professional seriousness, managed and lessons learned."

In Summary

• In a statement on Wednesday, Bensouda said she truly believes that the Court today and the Rome Statute system are stronger and more relevant than they were a decade ago.

• Bensouda wished Khan well and asked him to do justice to the victims.

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda./ICC
ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda./ICC

As Karim Khan prepares to take his public oath today as the new International Criminal Court prosecutor, his predecessor Fatou Bensouda has recounted her experiences during her nine-year stint at the Hague.

"Set-backs were encountered with professional seriousness, managed and lessons learned, all with a view and purpose to do things better and more effectively,' she said.

In a statement on Wednesday, Bensouda said she truly believes that the Court today and the Rome Statute system are stronger and more relevant than they were a decade ago.

"That is not to say there isn’t room for improvement. Of course, there is, but we have done much and have much to be proud of," she said.

KHAN

Bensouda wished Khan well and asked him to do justice to the victims.

Khan was elected on February 12, 2021, for a nine-year term at the second resumed 19th session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute in New York.

The United Kingdom national will be replacing Bensouda, who is a Gambian. Khan will officially assume the post of ICC Prosecutor on June 16, 2021.

"Looking to the future My successor, the Prosecutor Elect will now take over the baton to advance the goals and values of the fundamentally important Rome Statute," Bensouda said.

"He will inherit a vastly improved office, with many dedicated and resilient staff who are eager to serve him as they have me in the service of the Rome Statute. They stand ready to continue faithfully, and with a sense of pride, fulfil their duties and provide support and advice. "

She said Khan, will build on what has been accomplished and take the Office to the next level as she had done with her term.

Bensouda said as she vacates the role of the Prosecutor, she leaves with one fundamental parting advice.

Let us remain firmly principled and vigilant in the service of the Rome Statute. We must stay resilient and impervious to political games and posturing. The future and legitimacy of the Court depends on it.
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda

"Do not let anyone deceive themselves or you to think otherwise. I have earnestly tried to do my part to the best of my abilities against all odds and great challenges. I will not judge my own report card. I wish the Court and its important mission continued success in the delivery of justice. The victims deserve nothing less."

"My term was not a personal journey; it was a collective story. It is what we, as a collective dedicated to goals and values of the Rome Statute, have accomplished together in the past nine years, in particular, all in our respective roles," she said.

"Whatever I did achieve, I could not have done so without the dedicated support of my colleagues at the office, across the Court, indeed, all of you, States Parties, civil society, and followers and supporters of the Court. I would be remiss if I did not thank my team at the Office. "

"Nine years ago, I was sworn in as the ICC’s second Prosecutor, following a unanimous vote of confidence bestowed upon me. Nine years ago, I had no illusions about the enormity of the task ahead. The job of the Prosecutor is an incredibly complex and demanding one."

Bensouda said with this mandate comes great responsibility, requiring focus, often self-sacrifice and fortitude.

"Nine years ago, I stated that justice, real justice, is not a pick-and-choose system, and that to be effective, to be just and to be a real deterrent, the Office of the Prosecutor’s activities and decisions must be based solely on the law and the evidence," he said.

She said they may operate in a political environment but their work must be shielded and free from the winds and whims of politics.

"I have strived, throughout my term, to honourably and with integrity discharge a complex multi-faceted mandate, with independence and impartiality. I have made my decisions, with careful deliberation - but without fear or favour," she said.

"Even in the face of adversity. Even at considerable personal cost. I have sought to focus not on the words and propaganda of a few influential individuals whose aim is to evade justice but – rather – to listen to the millions of victims who look to the Court as a beacon of hope."

Noting that these are not empty words, Bensouda said providing justice and a sense of hope to those who seek the protection of the law for the harm they have suffered was the very inspiration behind my decision as a teenager to study law.