Imbroglio around the candidates selected to become prosecutors of the International Criminal Court


Who will be the future prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC)? In June 2021, the Gambian magistrate Fatou Bensouda will conclude nine years of mandate. His successor is to be elected in December 2020, at the Assembly of 123 states that have joined the court, and in an attempt to depoliticize the upcoming election, a committee has been tasked with identifying candidates. But his findings, published on June 30, were ” a shock “ for many actors of international justice.

Four candidates were selected from a list of fourteen shortlisted: lawyers Morris Anyah and Fergal Gaynor, prosecutor Richard Roy and judge Susan Okalany. Problem, these four personalities would not have sufficient experience, believe several observers like David Crane. The former prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone assures us that “The new ICC prosecutor must command immediate respect and have the international stature that the proposed candidates lack”.

Curiously, the committee acknowledges, in its report, that the four candidates “May not have in some areas as much real or proven experience as would be desirable”. Reached by phone, the president of the committee, the Canadian Sabine Nölke, justifies: “We looked at skill, more than experience. “ An experience that some of the rejected candidates have, however.

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On July 29 and 30, the four selected will be interviewed by States and NGOs. But above all, the exercise should allow capitals to gently extricate themselves from the committee’s conclusions, before reviewing rejected applications. Supposed to facilitate the future election, the committee has, on the contrary, complicated the task. Because, apart from the candidates’ lack of experience, their eventual election seems unrealistic.

Maître Morris Anyah is Nigerian-American, and states do not wish to elect a national from a country that is not a member of the Court who, moreover, openly threatens him. In June, Donald Trump issued an executive order opening sanctions against the ICC, following the opening of an investigation into Afghanistan involving the US military and the CIA, and a dossier on Palestine. The two cases also complicate the election of Fergal Gaynor. The Irish lawyer defends victims in Palestine and Afghanistan and should therefore, once elected, recuse himself.

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Canadian Richard Roy cannot statutorily be elected because the current deputy prosecutor, James Stewart, in office until spring 2022, is of the same nationality. On this point, the chair of the committee, Canada’s Ambassador to Ireland, nevertheless believes that the Court could dispense with these rules for a few months.

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