Fatou Bensouda of Gambia has been elected as the new chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
The former Gambian justice minister was elected Monday at a meeting of ICC member states at the United Nations.
The 50-year-old Bensouda has served as the ICC’s deputy prosecutor since 2004. She takes over as chief prosecutor in June, when Luis Moreno-Ocampo of Argentina steps down after nine years on the job.
Bensouda is the first African to hold the high-profile post at the ICC, which many African leaders have criticized as unfairly focusing on the continent. All of the court’s cases so far involve African countries.
At the meeting Monday, Botswana’s President Ian Khama said the ICC prosecutes serious crimes occurring on African soil, and that African leaders should give it greater support.
Before coming to the ICC, Bensouda was the senior legal adviser at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which prosecutes those most responsible for the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Earlier, she served as Gambia’s attorney general.
The International Criminal Court was founded in 2002 to prosecute individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.
Prosecutors are pursuing a total of 14 cases in seven African countries. Among its notable cases, the court has issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who it accuses of war crimes and genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region.
Last month, the court arrested former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo for alleged crimes against humanity committed during post-election violence in his country. VOA