On Wednesday, 26 April 2017, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Mrs Fatou Bensouda concluded a two-day visit to Niamey, Republic of Niger. The visit was in response to the invitation of the President of Niger's National Assembly, H.E. Mr Ousseini Tinni to officially address parliamentarians and other distinguished attendees.
On the first day of the official visit, Prosecutor Bensouda delivered remarks before the National Assembly, and engaged in a question and answer session with parliamentarians. In addition to clarifying the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court ("ICC" or the "Court") and outlining the activities of the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC, the session allowed for an informative and open exchange on a wide range of topics. The important role that Niger and other African States Parties continue to play in facilitating the operational needs of the Court to the evolution of the ICC more broadly, complementarity and strengthening of national criminal justice systems to deal with Rome Statute crimes were amongst the topics discussed.
During her visit to Niger, the Prosecutor also met with the President of the Republic of Niger, H.E. Mr Mahamadou Issoufou, H.E. Prime Minister Brigi Rafini and the Minister of Justice, H.E. Mr Abubakar Malami as well as other key officials and stakeholders. In the margins, Prosecutor Bensouda also engaged with local and international media as part of her efforts to raise awareness about the Court and the work of her Office.
The meeting with H.E. President Issoufou explored how to further reinforce engagement and dialogue to ensure support and understanding for the Court's crucial work in combating impunity for Rome Statute crimes.
During the meeting, President Issoufou highlighted the importance of accountability to stability in the Sahel region, and expressed Niger's full support for the Court and the work of the Office of the Prosecutor. The President commended Prosecutor Bensouda's unyielding commitment to the cause of international criminal justice and to continuing to fulfil her mandate, with full independence and impartiality, wherever the Court has jurisdiction.
"Today, in the presence of Prosecutor Bensouda, I reaffirm Niger's strong commitment to the ICC and the fight against impunity for atrocity crimes," said President Issoufou. "The Court deserves the political support of its States Parties, and the resources its needs to effectively fulfil its mandate" the President added.
Prosecutor Bensouda thanked H.E. President Issoufou for his support, underscoring the importance of continued and increased cooperation with the ICC in order to fully discharge its complementarity mandate. The discussions further focused on the need for States to reinforce the capacity of their criminal justice systems to address these serious crimes at the national level.
"Where the Court has jurisdiction, and no-one else is doing, or is able to do justice for the victims" said the Prosecutor, "our aim is to establish the truth and on the strength of the evidence, bring the perpetrators of these serious crimes to face justice in a court of law. By so doing, we hope to deter the commission of future crimes, and provide some comfort to survivors, restore dignity to lives devastated by atrocity crimes, and honour the memory of those whose lives have been lost. We must never forget the victims. We must work to prevent future victimization."
Prosecutor Bensouda expressed profound gratitude to the authorities of Niger for facilitating the visit and the opportunity it provided to discuss and explain the work of the Court. She also thanked the citizens of Niger and their representatives for the warm welcome and hospitality extended to her and her delegation on this first visit to Niger as ICC Prosecutor.
The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC conducts independent and impartial preliminary examinations, investigations and prosecution of the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Office has been conducting investigations in: Uganda; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Darfur, Sudan; the Central African Republic (two separate investigations); Kenya; Libya; Côte d'Ivoire, Mali and Georgia. The Office is also conducting preliminary examinations relating to the situations in Afghanistan; Burundi; the registered vessels of Comoros, Greece and Cambodia; Colombia; Gabon; Guinea; Iraq/UK; Palestine, Nigeria and Ukraine.