THE HAGUE: Britain’s Karim Khan was confirmed on Wednesday as the new prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), facing enormous challenges, including investigations concerning the Palestinian regions, Afghanistan and the Philippines.
Khan, 51, a former defense legal advisor for the Hague-based council, was chosen by ICC member states in February to serve a nine-year residency at the world’s permanent war crimes court
He has been left with a bulging case file by his predecessor Fatou Bensouda, who expanded the ICC’s reach significantly to such an extent that she was hit by US sanctions yet additionally endured a progression of high-profile failures.
“The ICC is in a crucial phase, it has faced criticism for not being as effective as states have wished,” Carsten Stahn, international criminal law professor at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, told AFP.
However, Stahn said Khan could bring “new force” and had a “open door to correct the wrongs” of the court, which has also been scrutinized for the high salaries of its judges and its sluggish cycles.
Khan made a public vow of office in a ceremony at the ICC, making him simply the court’s third prosecutor since it was established in 2002 to try individuals for the world’s worst crimes.
“I solemnly undertake that I will perform my duties and exercise my powers as Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court honourably, faithfully, impartially and conscientiously,” he said.
Khan previously led an exceptional UN probe into crimes by the Islamic State fanatic group and, more questionably, represented the late Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi’s son Seif al-Islam at the ICC.He is also known to represent the Current Kenya Deputy president,Willian Ruto where the case was dismissed for lack of evidence.
Bensouda has left him with a full in-plate, including a probe into the Philippines war on drugs that she reported on Monday, an investigation concerning asserted US atrocities in Afghanistan, and the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Amnesty International said Khan’s appointment was a chance for “revitalisation” of the ICC, but that he would face challenges in the job.
“He will be under pressure and we hope he will proceed as Fatou Bensouda in independence and without fear or favour,” Matthew Cannock, head of Amnesty’s Centre for International Justice, told AFP.