Statement: 26 November 2019

Statement of the Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, on external expert review and lessons drawn from the Kenya situation


As I have repeatedly stated, the Office of the Prosecutor ("OTP" or "Office"), under my direction, is committed to a culture of continuous learning and improvement in the service of our mandate under the Rome Statute. In the past seven years, in particular, my Office has expended great energy and effort in countless managerial and strategic initiatives to strengthen its capacity to deliver as effectively and efficiently as possible on its important mandate. Bolstering our internal quality control mechanisms through a systematic process of review and lessons learned is an integral part of the Office culture that I, along with my senior management, have embraced and fostered.

It is in this context that I wish to publish the outcome of my Office's internal Kenya situation review exercise following the receipt of a report in February 2018 by a panel of independent external experts that I commissioned to assist us with the review. I have not released this statement until now (read Full Statement below), in part to adequately consult and engage with my senior management and staff members involved in the Kenya situation about the outcome of the exercise, and to conduct a careful review of the recommendations in order to determine those that have already been implemented and those that require further action. Additionally, given the Review process the International Criminal Court ("ICC" or "Court") is now embarking upon with States Parties, the time seems particularly appropriate to report on such an important exercise, which draws lessons from past experience, in order to strengthen the way the Office works.

The purpose of this initiative was not to lay blame or to criticise anyone, but rather to learn from experience, particularly in relation to the early handling of the Kenya situation by the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC, in order to understand how to improve the way we operate.

In addition to external factors, including lack of sufficient cooperation, witness tampering and interference, which played their role in the final outcome in the context of the Situation in Kenya, the goal of this internal initiative was to assess the performance of the Office itself, and to draw the appropriate lessons and to make changes where necessary. I am encouraged by the fact that the Office had already addressed most of the recommended changes in response to our experience of the Kenya situation even prior to the receipt of the independent external expert report.

The recommendations of the three independent external experts who conducted the exercise and their underlying conclusions are reflected in the Executive Summary of their confidential report ("Executive Summary"), which is included herein. Not everyone may agree with certain conclusions, and some findings may not be fully supported by the record, but no one can take issue with the essential thrust of the report.

The completion of this important initiative has allowed my Office to consider and implement, where still necessary, any appropriate changes in both operational and management practices, as recommended by the external experts. The fact that my Office has already implemented most of the recommendations made by the experts is a sure indication that we are on the right track in determining what changes in working methods could be made to hone performance internally and to better manage external factors that impinge on success. Indeed, a key objective of the exercise was to ensure that the improvements the OTP has been making in its management processes and operational methods are properly oriented to continuously achieve positive results in line with our Strategic Plans and policies.

Through this initiative, I hope to demonstrate to the international community my Office's good faith, transparency and readiness to engage in honest self-reflection, but also our capacity to learn from such experiences and to implement concrete changes where necessary.

I am proud of the improvements and related achievements my Office has made with the contribution of my dedicated staff. I am confident that the OTP will stay the course on this forward trajectory.



Read ICC Prosecutor Bensouda's full statement, along with its annexes

  • Annex 1: ICC OTP Kenya Cases: Review and Recommendations – Executive Summary
  • Annex 2: Response of the former Prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, dated 25 November 2019

Selected publicly available Strategic Plans, policies and other documents adopted since 2012 and being implemented

Contact: [email protected]

Source: Office of the Prosecutor | Contact: [email protected]