British barrister Karim Khan took over as the International Criminal Court’s top prosecutor today with a pledge to improve its track record by taking only its strongest cases to trial, Reuters reports.
Khan, who is the third person to hold the role, faces many challenges at a time of fierce political pressure on the world’s permanent war crimes tribunal.
— Middle East Monitor (@MiddleEastMnt) April 13, 2021
The ICC is handling a number of sensitive cases, including in the occupied Palestinian territories and Afghanistan, and members of the prosecutor’s office were personally targeted by financial sanctions while Donald Trump served as US president.
Under Trump, Washington opposed decisions by Khan’s predecessor, Fatou Bensouda, to examine war crimes allegations in Afghanistan, including against US troops, and alleged atrocities in the occupied Palestinian territories by Israeli troops. The sanctions have been dropped, but US and Israeli opposition to the court remains.
Khan, 51, took an oath to serve his nine-year term honorably and impartially during a ceremony in The Hague. He said one of his main tasks would be improving the performance of the prosecutor’s office.
Since opening in 2002, the ICC has convicted five men for war crimes and crimes against humanity, all African militia leaders from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali and Uganda. Sentences ranged from nine to 30 years in prison.
(MEMO, PC, Social Media)