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Outgoing ICC Prosecutor Urges Security Council To Keep Focus On Justice In Darfur


The international community must stay focused on
achieving justice and peace for the people of Darfur, the
outgoing Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court
(ICC) told the Security Council on
Wednesday.

In her final briefing to
ambassadors, Fatou Bensouda underlined that the Court is the
only institution that promised hope to victims of the brutal
conflict in the Sudanese province.

“When this
Council referred the Darfur situation to the ICC in March
2005, it brought hope to victims of atrocity crimes in
Darfur by sending a clear message that justice was not only
important in its own right but also with a multiplier effect
in achieving sustainable peace in Darfur”, she
said.

The ICC investigations centre around allegations
of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity,
committed during fighting which began two years earlier
between Government forces, backed by allied militia known as
janjaweed, and Darfur rebel movements.

Five arrest
warrants were issued, including against President Omar
Al-Bashir who was deposed in a 2019 after 30 years in
power.

Alleged former janjaweed commander Ali Muhammad
Ali Abd-Al-Rahman, also known as “Ali Kushayb”,
voluntarily surrendered himself to the ICC in June 2020 and
his confirmation of charges was held last month.

‘A
new page’

Sudan has been moving along a path of
political and economic transition, and last October the
authorities and two Darfur armed groups signed a landmark
peace agreement.

Ms. Bensouda recently led the ICC’s
first mission to the country, and reported that the Court
and the Government “have turned a new page in their
relationship”.

Citing a new era of dialogue and
cooperation, she added that investigators are preparing to
travel to Darfur soon.

While the visit has rekindled
hope, enthusiasm could easily be dampened “through our
inaction or half-hearted, ineffective action”, she
warned.

Handover suspects

“The clear and
consistent message I received from Darfur victims in El
Fasher, Nyala and Zalingei is that the four outstanding
warrants must be executed and that suspects must be handed
over to the ICC”, she said, a message which she also
stressed to officials during her visit.

The Prosecutor
placed particular emphasis on the urgent need to transfer
Ahmad Harun, a former Minister of State, to the
Court.

“Almost all the suspects are in the custody
of the Government of Sudan and there is no legal impediment
to their surrender to ICC”, she said.

“In
particular, credible reports and other information, indicate
that Mr. Harun has expressed his wish to be transferred to
the ICC. I appeal to this Council to prevail upon Sudan to
immediately honour Mr Harun’s wish and facilitate his
transfer to the ICC without delay.”

‘One of
humanity’s proudest moments’

Ms Bensouda saluted
the people of Darfur for their courage, perseverance and
unrelenting belief in the course of justice, and their
support for the ICC, stating it was the only institution
that promised hope to them, and other victims.

In
concluding, she highlighted the Court’s importance to the
international community.

“I often state that the
creation of the ICC must surely be one of humanity’s
proudest moments,” she said.

“It is, because it
represents an awakening rooted in great human suffering
throughout the ages, culminating in the recognition that
lawless wars and conflict must no longer receive a pass to
cause human
carnage.”

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