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    Ex-ICC Prosecutor leads probe into Ethiopia human rights abuses

    March 7, 2022

    Fatou Bensouda: after the ICC she is now investigating abuses of  international human rights and humanitarian and refugee law in Ethiopian conflict
    Image; ICC

    THE former Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, has been asked to lead a three-member team to investigate alleged human rights abuses in Ethiopia committed by all parties to the conflict that erupted in Tigray on November 3, 2020.

    The President of the UN Human Rights Council, Federico Villegas from Argentina, made the announcement of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia at the recent session of the Council in Geneva.

    Bensouda from The Gambia will serve as Chair of the Commission that also has as its members Kaari Betty Murungi of Kenya and American Steven Ratner.

    The Commission was established in accordance with a resolution adopted on December 17, 2021 at a special session of the Council to conduct an investigation into allegations of violations and abuses of international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law in Ethiopia during the conflict there.

    The investigators have been asked to “establish the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged violations and abuses, collect and preserve evidence, to identify those responsible, where possible, and to make such information accessible and usable in support of ongoing and future accountability efforts”.

    Under the same resolution, the 47-member body mandated the Commission to build upon the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and to make recommendations on technical assistance to the Ethiopian government to support “accountability, reconciliation and healing”.

    The Commissioners, who will serve in their personal capacities, were also requested to present an oral briefing to the Human Rights Council at its 50th session in June and July this year and a written report at its 51st session in September and October.

    Bensouda served as Prosecutor of the ICC from June 2012 to June 2021 and was previously Deputy Prosecutor from 2004 to 2012.

    Prior to her work at the ICC, Bensouda worked as Legal Adviser and Trial Attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha in Tanzania, rising to the position of Senior Legal Adviser and Head of the Legal Advisory Unit.

    Between 1987 and 2000, she served in successively senior positions in The Gambia, including Attorney General and Minister of Justice, in which capacity she served as Chief Legal Adviser to the President and Cabinet of The Gambia.

    Murungi has broad experience in transitional justice processes, women’s human rights, gender, constitutionalism and governance.

    Currently a lawyer and advocate of the High Court of Kenya, she has focused much of her work to promote women’s human rights in the context of violent conflict.

    Murungi served as Vice Chairperson and Commissioner to the Kenya Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission from 2009 to 2010; as the Africa representative on the Board of Directors of the Trust Fund for Victims at the International Criminal Court from 2009 to 2013; as a Senior Transitional Justice Adviser to the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission in South Sudan; and as a member of the Human Rights Council-created Independent Commission of Inquiry for the occupied Palestinian territory.

    Ratner is currently Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School in the US.

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