13 December 2012

Sudan: ICC Prosecutor Criticizes UNSC On Darfur Warrants

Khartoum — The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Thursday expressed frustration with lack of action on the part of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to execute pending arrest warrants relating to Darfur crimes.

Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), addresses the Security Council's meeting on Darfur December 13, 2012 (UN Photo)

In her first UNSC report on Darfur since she assumed the post this summer, Fatou Bensouda said that the council "should be even more concerned about the situation in Darfur, given that crimes continue to be committed, including by those already indicted by the Court".

"The question that remains to be answered is how many more civilians must be killed, injured and displaced for this Council to be spurred into doing its part?" Bensouda asked.

"Victims of Darfur crimes can hardly wait for the day that fragmentation and indecision will be replaced by decisive, concrete and tangible actions they expect from this Council" she added.

Since the ICC started investigating Darfur in 2005 as a result of UNSC referral, it has issued arrest warrants for now the governor of Sudan's border state of South Kordofan Ahmed Haroun and Janjaweed militia leader Ali Kushayb.

But the most high-profile suspect is Sudan's president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir who is accused by the ICC of committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur. This year the court also indicted Sudanese defense minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein.

Bensouda reiterated the lack of cooperation extended by Sudan on the warrants and investigations by her office.

"The failure of the Government of the Sudan to implement the five arrest warrants seems symbolic of its ongoing commitment to a military solution in Darfur, which has translated into a strategy aimed at attacking civilian populations over the last ten years, with tragic results," the ICC prosecutor said.

She also warned that more charges could be filed in the Darfur case depending on her office's investigation into further crimes committed.

The incidents under investigation include bombings and bombardments, the blocking of distribution of humanitarian aid and "direct attacks on civilian populations."

More than 300,000 people have been killed in the Darfur conflict since rebels took up arms against the central government nearly 10 years ago, accusing it of discrimination and neglect. Violence has tapered off, but clashes continue.

The preparation for trial in the case against two rebel commanders accused of attacking UN peacekeepers in 2007 is continuing she said, but cited some technical difficulties.

Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain and Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus each face three counts of violence to life in the form of murder, war crime of attacking a peacekeeping mission and pillaging.

"Good progress has been made towards the start of the trial for two of the three individuals accused of war crimes in the rebel attack on the African Union peacekeeping base at Haskanita, North Darfur. I expect that trial to begin in 2013, although the defence has asked for its postponement until 2014" Bensouda told UNSC.

"The investigation and preparation for this trial have involved unique challenges, including the translation of all materials for the defence into Zaghawa, a tribal language with no written form. This work demonstrates the commitment of the Office and the Court to a fair trial" she added.

The two men appear to have conceded the charges accord to joint filing made by the ICC prosecution and defense last year.

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