Karim Khan, the new Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, was sworn in in The Hague on Wednesday. He will serve a nine year term at the Court.
Khan will be replacing the ICC’s second prosecutor Fatou Bensouda from The Gambia.
Khan, a UK national, has served as a legal adviser in the prosecutor’s office at the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. . He also served as defense counsel on various cases at the ICC, the Yugoslav tribunal, and the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
Most recently Khan was the head of the United Nations Security Council-mandated investigation of crimes committed by the ISIS in Iraq.
Rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called on the incoming prosecutor to safeguard the Office of the Prosecutor’s independence and impartiality
‘The outgoing ICC prosecutor’s decision to seek an Afghanistan investigation and to move forward with a Palestine probe, despite intense political pressure, reinforced the office’s independence,” said Liz Evenson, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch. ‘Karim Khan should build on his predecessor’s efforts to ensure that those most responsible for grave crimes are held to account, regardless of their power or position.’
Nick Kaufman, defence counsel before the international criminal tribunals, said to Al Jazeera: ‘Khan’s future leadership style will inevitably be determined, in the short term, by the personal conflicts of interest with which he will have to deal. Such conflicts will arise because he will now be heading an office which is currently prosecuting his former clients. Although many may be hoping that he will clean out the stables he might find the task trickier than anticipated.’
Olympia Bekou, professor at the University of Nottingham said to Al Jazeera: ‘ When a new Prosecutor comes in there is always hope for better things to come, but also an acknowledgement of the responsibility towards victims and affected communities to deliver justice.’
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