Top of the Morning: Pillay Warns of An Imminent Attack on Homs; New ICC Prosecutor Named

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Syria: A Major Assault on the City of Homs May Be Imminent

That was the message that High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay brought to the Security Council late Monday afternoon. In her testimony, Pillay also revised upward the estimated number of people killed to 5,000. “‘Many voices are warning that a major assault on Homs may be imminent,’ Pillay said, shortly after briefing the UN Security Council in a closed session. ‘I am not in a position to confirm those reports, but the prospect of such an attack is extremely alarming.’ Reports received by the UN Human Rights office from sources in contact with people inside the country indicate that hundreds of tanks and weapons have been deployed into Homs over the past few days, dozens of check-points have been set up and trenches have been dug around the city…’Credible reports from a variety of sources received by my office indicate that the total number of people killed since the protests began in March now probably exceeds 5,000,’ Pillay said. ‘This number includes civilians, as well as defecting soldiers and those executed for refusing to shoot civilians.’ It does not include serving members of the military and other security forces and militias, hundreds of whom have also been killed, she said.” (UNOHCHR via email)

Meet War Criminals’ New Worst Enemy

A 50 year old Gambian woman was named the new prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. Fatou Bensouda already serves as the deputy prosecutor at the ICC and she takes over from Luis Moreno Ocampo next year. The difference between the two is more stylistic than substantive. “When Ms. Bensouda becomes the world’s most visible prosecutor for a single nine-year term, she may bring a change of style with her soft-spoken, low-key manner — a sharp contrast to her more publicity-conscious boss, who succeeded in quickly thrusting the new institution into the limelight after it opened its doors in 2002. But having served as deputy prosecutor since 2004, Ms. Bensouda is expected to bring continuity rather than sharp changes to her powerful office, at least in the near future. A large docket of cases awaits, involving war crimes or crimes against humanity, and in the case of Sudan, charges of genocide. Only one trial has been concluded. Two others are going on. Supporters of the court now hope that the presence of an African prosecutor could tone down some of the fierce criticism it has received from Africa, where many have labeled it a neocolonial tool in the hands of the West because all of the cases so far have come from African countries.” (NYT