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25 October 2011

International Criminal Court: Ensure best candidate is elected as new Prosecutor

International Criminal Court: Ensure best candidate is elected as new Prosecutor

The process to elect a new Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC), currently under way, must be transparent and must ensure that the post goes to the most qualified candidate, Amnesty International said today.

Until now, the candidates’ names have been kept confidential, but a shortlist of finalists and their qualifications was made public today along with a report on the process used to select the candidates.

A new Prosecutor will be elected in December and will begin a nine-year term in July 2012.

The four shortlisted candidates are Fatou Bensouda of The Gambia, currently Deputy Prosecutor of the ICC; Andrew T. Cayley of the United Kingdom, currently International Co-Prosecutor, Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia; Mohamed Chande Othman of Tanzania, currently Chief Justice of Tanzania; and Robert Petit of Canada, currently Counsel, Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Section of Canada’s Department of Justice.

“It is essential now that the strongest candidate be elected in a public process that gives confidence to everyone who depends on the important work of the International Criminal Court,” said Marek Marczynski, Amnesty International's Campaign Manager on International Justice.

“As well as continuing with the existing cases, the Prosecutor will play a large role in determining where the ICC conducts its investigations and which new cases it takes on. Governments, civil society and millions of victims of human rights violations around the world will be looking to the new Prosecutor to pursue international justice to the highest standards.”

Over the coming weeks, States Parties will informally consider candidates for the Prosecutor post. In December, a secret ballot will be held to elect the final candidate, who must receive an absolute majority of votes. It is reported that there may be attempt to build consensus on a single candidate before the vote takes place.

“While we recognize it’s important for the final candidate to enjoy broad support from States Parties, building consensus informally risks further politicizing the process and undermining its transparency,” said Marek Marczynski.

“If a consensus cannot be reached, states should be requested to formally nominate candidates without delay for a contested election in December.”

Amnesty International urges states not to undermine the integrity of the election by engaging in vote trading in relation to other international elections – including the parallel election of six ICC judges.

The Rome Statute that established the ICC sets out clear criteria for electing a Prosecutor. The successful candidate must be of high moral character and have extensive practical experience in the prosecution or trial of criminal cases. He or she must also have a proven history of performing professional duties impartially and independently. 

Other relevant experience is highly desirable, such as a background in prosecuting crimes under international law and expertise in specific issues, such as violence against women and children.

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Report of the Search Committee for Prosecutor (External link, 25 October 2011)
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