July 25, 2021

Britain’s Karim Khan becomes the new prosecutor of the International Criminal Court

On Wednesday June 16, the British magistrate Karim Khan was to leave his “bunker » of Baghdad after having led for almost three years the judicial investigation of the United Nations into the crimes of the terrorist organization Islamic State (IS) in Iraq. The new prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) will take an oath in The Hague before taking up his quarters in the monumental glass building erected on the site of a former barracks near the North Sea.

After twenty years of existence, this Court is so disparaged that in becoming the face and the voice seems to be a condemnation. But the new prosecutor has charisma and character. A presence and an authority. He’s talking about “Survivors” instead of ” victims “recalls the Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad, spokesperson for the Yazidi minority. When he led the investigation against ISIS in Baghdad, “Every time we spoke, he sincerely asked me how I was”, said the young woman. “He understands that survivors need time and space to heal, especially when the documentation work requires us to relive traumatic experiences. “

Reform the Court

At the ICC, the Briton intends, as much as possible, to investigate on the ground, to rely on local investigators, for the benefit of a jurisdiction too often disconnected from the countries where the crimes on which it is investigating were committed. Karim Khan will be especially expected on his ability to reform the Court, sixteen years after the issuance of his first arrest warrants, which targeted the leaders of the terrible Lord’s Resistance Army, within the Ugandan rebellion.

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Before him, Gambian Fatou Bensouda was unofficially responsible for reconciling jurisdiction with Africa. As if to prove that the court had no anti-African bias, the prosecutor opened investigations into the 2008 Russia-Georgia war, the Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, Afghanistan and the crimes of US forces, or in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel. But none of these investigations has so far resulted in arrest warrants. For 19 years, only Africans have been targeted.

The new prosecutor is particularly expected on these last two cases. Politically sensitive, the investigations targeting US forces in Afghanistan and the Israeli occupation in Palestine – which have yet to take concrete action – have sparked open retaliation from the United States. In 2020, Washington placed the prosecutor on its list of people under sanction.

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