New York — The International Criminal Court (ICC) is "frustrated and despaired" about the UN Security Council's "inaction and paralysis" concerning the arrest of president Omar Al Bashir of Sudan. "Without stronger action by this Council and States Parties, the situation in Sudan is unlikely to improve", Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told the Security Council on Wednesday.
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in her eighteenth report on the situation in Darfur that the conflict, lasting ten years now, is deteriorating. She noted aerial bombardments in Darfur and "the pervasive and corrosive effect of organised sexual and gender-based violence" on women and girls, which remains seriously under-reported. The numbers of people killed, abducted and displaced are growing annually. "The time has come for this Security Council and States Parties to seriously devise strategies for arresting those alleged to be responsible for these crimes," Bensouda put forward.
In 2009, ICC issued arrest warrants against the President of Sudan Omar Al Bashir and other top officials for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Darfur. The Prosecutor called it a "serious indictment on this Security Council" that Bashir and others have shown "blatant disregard" for the Council's resolutions as they have travelled to various countries without fear of arrest. President Bashir attended a summit in Kuwait on 18 and 19 November for example, but could return unharmed to Sudan. Kuwait did not execute the ICC's request for his arrest. The President was also able to travel back and forth to Chad, his last visit dating from May 2013.
Conflict Darfur cost $10 billion
Bensouda concluded in a statement on 5 June 2012 that the ICC should ask UN member states or regional organisations to execute the arrests, instead of Unamid which "should not be authorised to carry out arrests". Member states have not complied to the Council's resolutions so far, and that "only serves to add insult to the plight of Darfur's victims," Bensouda complained.
In a report by ABC News, Sudan's UN Ambassador criticised Bensouda's statement, saying: "Sudan has established its own special court for issues related to the Darfur conflict and its prosecutor is considering 57 cases."
The conflict in Darfur has displaced 460,000 people in 2013 alone, and has cost the UN and aid organisations more than $10.5 billion, Bensouda also stressed. The Security Council did not respond to her sharp criticism. According to the current council president: "We are ready to move forward, but the council is blocked, by some countries."