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Fatou Bensouda

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Fatou Bom Bensouda ( ; née Nyang; born 31 January 1961) is a Gambian lawyer, former advisor of Yahya Jammeh, international criminal law prosecutor and legal adviser.


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She has been the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor since June 2012, after having served as a Deputy Prosecutor in charge of the Prosecutions Division of the ICC since 2004 and having been minister of justice of The Gambia. She has held positions of Legal Adviser and Trial Attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

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Early life and education

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Born on 31 January 1961 in Banjul (then Bathurst), the Gambia, Bensouda is the daughter of Omar Gaye Nyang, was government driver and the country's most prominent wrestling promoter. She attended primary and secondary school in the Gambia before leaving in 1982 for Nigeria where she graduated from the University of Ife with a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) degree in 1986. The following year, she obtained her Barrister-at-Law (BL) professional qualification from the Nigeria Law School. She later became the Gambia's first expert in international maritime law after earning a master of laws from the International Maritime Law Institute in Malta.

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Bensouda is married to a Gambian–Moroccan businessman, Phillip Bensouda, and they have three children, one of whom is adopted.

Functions under the regime of Dawda Jawara and Yahya Jammeh

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Fatou Bensouda was appointed as state counsel in 1987 and deputy director of public prosecutions in February 1994 for Jawara's government. She played a central role in the early years of Gambian president Yahya Jammeh's regime, being chosen as his solicitor general and legal adviser after his 1994 putsch in 1996, before becoming his Minister of Justice in August 1998 and "being sacked" in March 2000. Jammeh's rule has been recurrently denounced for its disrespect of human rights, being considered as one of the "worst dictatorships in the world". She was praised by rights groups for her speedy prosecution of offenses against women and children.

Bensouda’s international career as a non-government civil servant formally began at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, where she worked as a Legal Adviser and Trial Attorney before rising to the position of Senior Legal Advisor and Head of the Legal Advisory Unit (May 2002 to August 2004). On 8 August 2004, she was elected as Deputy Prosecutor (Prosecutions) with an overwhelming majority of votes by the Assembly of State Parties of the International Criminal Court. On 1 November 2004, Bensouda was sworn into Office as Deputy Prosecutor (Prosecutions).

On 1 December 2011, the Assembly of States Parties of the ICC announced that an informal agreement had been reached to make Bensouda the consensus choice to succeed Luis Moreno-Ocampo as Prosecutor of the ICC. She was formally elected by consensus on 12 December 2011. Her term as prosecutor began on 15 June 2012.

According to an Associated Press report on November 6, 2015, Bensouda found that war crimes may have been committed on the Mavi Marmara ship in 2010, where eight unarmed Turks and one Turkish-American were killed and several other activists were wounded by Israeli commandos, but she ruled the case was not serious enough to merit an International Criminal Court probe.

Awards and honours

Bensouda has been the recipient of various awards, most notably, the distinguished ICJ International Jurists Award (2009), which was presented by President of India P. D. Patil. Bensouda was given this award for her contributions to criminal law both at the national and International level. Bensouda has also been awarded the 2011 World Peace Through Law Award presented by the Whitney Harris World Law Institute, Washington University, which recognized her work in considerably advancing the rule of law and thereby contributing to world peace.

Time magazine listed Bensouda among the 100 most influential people in the world in its annual Time 100 issue, noting her role as a "leading voice pressing governments to support the quest for justice".

The African magazine Jeune Afrique named Bensouda as the 4th most influential person in Africa in the Civil Society category and one of the 100 most Influential African Personalities.

In December 2014, the Togolese magazine Africa Top Success named her "African of the Year", ahead of Isabel dos Santos, Angélique Kidjo, Lupita Nyong'o, Daphne Mashile-Nkosi and Koki Mutungi.


  • The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court: Successes, Challenges and the Promise of International Criminal Justice in the Lecture Series of the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law
  • References

    Fatou Bensouda Wikipedia

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