AMSTERDAM (AP) — The International Criminal Court installed Gambian war crimes lawyer Fatou Bensouda as its new prosecutor for a nine-year term on Friday.
Bensounda replaces Luis Moreno-Ocampo in a job that has become one of the most prominent in international law over the past decade. She will be tasked with trying to bring to justice alleged war criminals including Uganda’s Joseph Kony, Libya’s Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, and Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir.
In an address to the court, Bensouda said she was “humbled” by her appointment, and promised to continue pursuing all cases that fall under the court’s jurisdiction.
“As I speak, massive crimes continue to be committed in Darfur (Sudan); Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army’s acts of violence continue unabated in central Africa,” she said.
“Nothing short of arresting all those against whom warrants have been issued will ensure that justice is done for millions of victims of the crimes committed by these fugitives.”
Court President Sang-Hyun Song oversaw Bensouda’s acceptance of the prosecutor’s duties in a courtroom in a suburb of the Hague, Netherlands.
The International Criminal Court was founded in 2002 as the permanent successor to numerous ad-hoc war crimes tribunals set up over the past two decades such as the U.N. Yugoslav tribunal and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
Bensouda has served as deputy prosecutor at the tribunal since 2004.
In her address, Bensouda noted that Moreno-Ocampo set up the prosecutor’s office in 2003 with “two staff members…six empty floors and no cases ongoing.”
“I inherit a well-respected and sound functioning office, with almost 300 staff from 80 countries, seven situations under investigation, 14 cases before the chambers, seven preliminary examinations and one verdict.”
In March, trial judges handed down its first conviction, that of Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga, for conscripting child soldiers. He awaits sentencing.
Moreno-Ocampo, who was present Friday for Bensouda’s swearing-in, is expected to take a job with FIFA, the international football (soccer) governing body, investigating corruption in the sport.
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