Fatou Bensouda

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Fatou Bensouda
Deputy Prosecutor.jpg
Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court
Assumed office
15 June 2012
President Song Sang-Hyun
Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi
Deputy James Stewart
Preceded by Luis Moreno Ocampo
Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court
In office
8 September 2004 – 15 June 2012
President Philippe Kirsch
Sang-hyun Song
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by James Stewart
Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the Gambia
In office
President Yahya Jammeh
Preceded by Hawa Sisay-Sabally
Succeeded by Pap Cheyassin Secka
Personal details
Born (1961-01-31) 31 January 1961 (age 55)
Banjul, Gambia
Alma mater University of Ife
Nigerian Law School
International Maritime Law Institute
Religion Islam[1]

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

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.[2] She has held positions of Legal Adviser and Trial Attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Bensouda was born in Banjul, the Gambia[citation needed]. She attended primary and secondary school in the Gambia before leaving for Nigeria where she graduated from the University of IFE with an Bachelor of Laws (Hons) degree[citation needed]. She then obtained her Barrister-at-Law (BL) professional qualification from the Nigeria Law School.

Bensouda is married to a Gambian–Moroccan businessman, Phillip Bensouda,[4] and they have three children, one of whom is adopted.[5]

Functions under the regime of Yahya Jammeh[edit]

Fatou Bensouda played a central role in the early years of the Gambian Yahya Jammeh putschist regime, being chosen as his legal adviser after his 1994 putsch, before becoming his Minister in 1998 and "being sacked" in 2000.[6] Jammeh's rule has been recurrently denounced for its disrespect of human rights, being considered as one of the "worst dictatorships in the world".[7][8]

International criminal prosecutor and legal adviser[edit]

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)[citation needed].

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.[9] She was formally elected by consensus on 12 December 2011.[3] Her term as Prosecutor began in June 2012.[9]

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 un-armed Turks and one Turkish-American were killed and several other activists were wounded by Israeli commandos, but she ruled the case wasn't serious enough to merit an ICC (the International Criminal Court) probe.[10]

Awards and honours[edit]

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 Mrs. Bensouda among the 100 most influential people in the world in its annual Time 100 issue[citation needed].

The African magazine Jeune Afrique named Bensouda as the 4th most influential person in Africa in the Civil Society category [11] and one of the 100 most Influential African Personalities.[12]

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.[13]


  1. ^ TALAL ALHAJ (15 December 2011). "ICC's new prosecutor on Arab conflicts, how Islam plays a role in guiding her and her vision for the international court". AL ARABIYA. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  2. ^ "Gambia's Fatou Bensouda sworn in as ICC prosecutor". BBC News. 15 June 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Farouk Chothia, "Africa's Fatou Bensouda is new ICC chief prosecutor", BBC News, 2011-12-12.
  4. ^ Mike Gitau. "The Essence of Fatou Bensouda". Nairobi Sun. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  5. ^ Farouk Chothia (12 December 2011). "Africa's Fatou Bensouda is new ICC chief prosecutor". BBC. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  6. ^ "Africa's Fatou Bensouda is new ICC chief prosecutor - BBC News". BBC News. Retrieved 2016-01-12. 
  7. ^ "President Yahya Jammeh: The Worst Dictator You've Never Heard Of". Yahoo News. Retrieved 2016-01-14. 
  8. ^ "Gambia's president tells gays: 'Do it here I will slit your throat'". Mail Online. Retrieved 2016-01-14. 
  9. ^ a b "Fatou Bensouda in Line to Become Next International Criminal Court Prosecutor", Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Media Advisory, 2011-12-01.
  10. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/11/06/world/europe/ap-eu-international-court-gaza-flotilla.html?_r=0
  11. ^ Jeune Afrique, No. 2450-2451, 26 Dec 2010 – 8 Jan 2011.
  12. ^ Jeune Afrique, No. 2607-2608, 23 Dec 2007 – 5 Jan 2008.
  13. ^ Africa Top Success Awards: Votez pour l’Africaine de l’année 2014 Africa Top Success

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Hawa Sisay-Sabally
Attorney General and Minister of Justice of The Gambia
Succeeded by
Pap Cheyassin Secka
Preceded by
Luis Moreno Ocampo
Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court