By Kebba Secka / Rohey Jadama

Fatou Bensouda, ICC’s Chief Prosecutor, has vowed to investigate and prosecute alleged crimes against humanity, wherever it is committed adding that being a Gambian national, does not prevent her from taking action against crimes committed anywhere in the world, provided that it falls within her jurisdiction, and where the state is also not willing to investigate the alleged crimes in its own territory. Prosecutor Bensouda gave these remarks during a visit of West African Journalists to the ICC, who were undergoing training on peace, justice and security reporting.

She commended the Government of the Gambia for setting up the TRRC for accountability purposes but on the other hand, expressed disappointment on the allegation that a whole community in the country was dislocated by the former regime, and they could not return despite a Court declaration for them to do so.

Asked whether the forceful eviction of the community amounts to crimes against humanity or genocide, Prosecutor Bensouda said: “Well, not genocide because genocide has to do with the mass killing of targeted groups because of their religion or ethnicity. It can be other crimes, such as displacement. But of course, the elements of the facts of forceful displacement, must be carefully looked at. This can be a crime against humanity. It is possible but as I said, I do not have all the elements present. But it can be that of crimes against humanity. I am very surprise that the current Government is not making them return,” she said.

Responding to a question that she blocked alleged reports of crimes committed by the former president because she was backed to the position by Jammeh, Prosecutor Bensouda said: “You know, people try to explain my actions as something personal or political, or they try to explain why I act. But I act base on the Rome Statute. This is what I do. Those making the allegations in the first instance, should know how the election of a prosecutor takes place. I am elected by over one hundred and twenty countries to this position. As you may know, I was deputy prosecutor first before being elected to this position. So, it does not require the recommendations of any country. Candidates applied for themselves and the voting takes place by the 120 State parties. It is also true that you can have the support of your Government by saying that we have endorsed the candidate. I had the support of the African Union that recommended me for election to this position. This has not stop me from doing my work. So, people are saying something that they do not know, or they are accusing me because they wanted to see me go to Gambia and pick Yaya Jammeh and bring him for Justice. It does not work that way. So, my election has nothing to do with Jammeh. I was elected based on my own merit,” Bensouda told visiting journalists.

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