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ICC prosecutor pleads again with UNSC to act on Darfur suspects

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December 15, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Fatou Bensouda described the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) as only delivering “empty promise” since it referred the situation Darfur to her court more than ten years ago.

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International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda briefs the Security Council on Sudan December 15, 2015 (UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)

“Despite my repeated requests for the Council to take action with respect to Sudan’s blatant disregard of its obligations, and in violation of this Council’s Resolutions, my appeals continue to be unheeded,” Bensouda said in her semi-annual report to the UNSC on Tuesday.

“[T]his Council which referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC has important responsibilities to ensure that States uphold their obligations. I can only reiterate my appeals to this Council to take appropriate measures within its powers to ensure that all Darfur situation fugitives are apprehended and brought to justice for the sake of the victims,” she said.

The prosecutor warned that victims of Darfur crimes are now demoralized “while the individuals against whom ICC arrest warrants have been issued, and who may be implicated in these crimes, continue to evade justice”.

“After all, who can blame them when attaining justice appears so remote; not the least because of the absence of adequate follow-up and support from the Council. Their frustration and resignation in the face of inaction must weigh heavily on our collective conscience,” Bensouda explained.

Khartoum has refused to cooperate with the Hague-based court despite the Chapter VII UN Security Council (UNSC) 2005 resolution referring the situation in Darfur to the ICC that mandated the cooperation of all warring parties in the western region.

From the government side, president Omer Hassan al-Bashir, North Kordofan governor Ahmad Haroun and Janjaweed leader Ali Kushayb have outstanding warrants.

Sudan insists that the ICC has no jurisdiction because it has not ratified the Rome Statute which is the founding treaty of the court.

It has nonetheless cooperated with the court until the first arrest warrant against Kushayb and Haroun were issued in 2007.

The UNSC has shown little appetite to compel Khartoum’s cooperation likely owing to support of its allies China and Russia who wield veto power.

“My Office, and indeed the Court as a whole, do not have powers of arrest. Those powers rest with States. In the case of Sudan, this Council which referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC has important responsibilities to ensure that States uphold their obligations. I can only reiterate my appeals to this Council to take appropriate measures within its powers to ensure that all Darfur situation fugitives are apprehended and brought to justice for the sake of the victims,” the ICC official said.

She revealed that her office continues to work on the Darfur case despite her announcement last year that she has decided to freeze new investigations.

“Contrary to the misinformed belief that investigations in Darfur have been closed, a team of committed lawyers and investigators from my Office is continuing with its work of interviewing witnesses, collecting documentary evidence and seeking information from relevant sources” Bensouda said.

Bashir at the time hailed Bensouda’s decision to shelve investigations as a victory for his country and a sign of surrender by the ICC.

“The charges of the court was an attempt to subjugate and humiliate, but it has now lifted up its hands and surrendered,” Bashir said.

“The court is not a failure because the government has refused to cooperate with it, but because the Sudanese people rejected it,” he added.

(ST)

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