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This article was published 11/12/2017 (1376 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A former Winnipegger and University of Manitoba law school graduate has been elected a judge to preside over international cases of genocide and crimes against humanity.
Kimberly Prost, who graduated from here in 1981 and was called to the Manitoba bar in 1982, was elected this week with five other judges to sit on the International Criminal Court (ICC). It’s for a nine-year term and is non-renewable.
"I am proud and honoured that I was nominated by Canada and have been elected to serve an institution that is so fundamental to international criminal justice," Prost said on Thursday from New York City, where the election was held.
"It was quite the process, but I made it through," she added, referring to the six rounds of voting by secret ballot that occurred before she was elected as one of six judges out of 12 candidates.
"It’s an extremely complicated election process... it’s meant to ensure geographical representation. It’s heartening that I was able to get the votes... I had an amazing team from Foreign Affairs Canada supporting me."
The other judges elected are from Japan, Peru, Benin, Uganda and Italy.
The International Criminal Court was created in 1998 and began working in 2002. It has the power to hear prosecutions against people charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The 18-judge court sits in The Hague in the Netherlands.
Prost said the ICC is a court of last resort.
"It’s only when the national jurisdiction is unable or unwilling to deal with the situation," she said.
The court has indicted several people through the years, including Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, and Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony.
After graduating, Prost spent five years as a federal prosecutor in the Department of Justice’s Winnipeg regional office.
While there she prosecuted cases not only in Winnipeg, but in northern Manitoba and Yukon, and took cases to the Manitoba Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada.
Prost then became responsible for helping determine whether the government should prosecute cases under new crimes against humanity and war crimes legislation, and later became a director of the Justice Department’s International Assistance Group.
It was while in that position she asked the Swiss government to seize the banking records of German-Canadian businessman Karlheinz Schreiber, who had allegedly paid former prime minister Brian Mulroney to help ensure Air Canada bought Airbus jets.
A later inquiry determined Mulroney acted in an "inappropriate" way when he accepted at least $225,000 in cash from Schreiber shortly after he stepped down as prime minister.
Prost went on to become head of the criminal law section for the Commonwealth Secretariat and then the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Her next position was as a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, from 2006 to 2010, presiding at a trial with seven individuals accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes — five of them charged with genocide in connection with allegations at Srebrenica and Zepa.
She then served as ombudsman for the United Nation’s Security Council al-Qaida sanctions committee, reviewing complaints from people and corporations who believe they were wrongly blacklisted by the UN for ties to al-Qaida and the Taliban, before moving to her most recent job as chef de cabinet to the president of the International Criminal Court.
Her new role as a judge is a nine-year term position.
"I think it is very good," she said. "Nine years gives you a chance to be immersed in cases and issues and make your contributions. After nine years, it is time to change the bench."
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.