14 December 2017

Sudan: ICC Prosecutor Laments Failure to Apprehend Sudan's Al Bashir

Photo: The Citizen
Omar-al-Bashir of Sudan.

New York — The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, has voiced frustration at the lack of cooperation with the ICC by the international community in apprehending Sudan's President Omar Al Bashir, while briefing the UN Security Council at a meeting on the situation in Darfur on Tuesday.

"I call on this Council to prioritise action on the outstanding warrants of arrest issued by the Court," Fatou Bensouda told the UN Security Council in New York.

Bensouda: "In the Darfur situation, effecting warrants of arrest remains a difficult challenge and a crucial area where greater collaboration is sorely needed. The entire judicial machinery of the Court can be frustrated and held in abeyance unless persons sought by the ICC appear before it.

"Failures to apprehend Mr Al Bashir are not only a flagrant violation of the Rome Statute but equally undermine this Council's own reputation and are an affront to the respect owed to its resolutions." - Fatou Bensouda

"I regret to note that over the years my reports have highlighted the consistent failure of the Council to act when a number of States Parties to the Rome Statute have welcomed Mr Omar Al Bashir as an ICC suspect to their territories. These States Parties have failed to comply with the Court's requests for his arrest and surrender, despite a clear treaty obligation to do so. In most cases, a lack of legal clarity has been claimed to justify the failure to arrest and surrender Mr Al Bashir," Bensouda said.

'No ambiguity'

"As the Court's legal jurisprudence, including recent judicial pronouncements, have reaffirmed, there is no legal lacuna or ambiguity concerning States Parties' obligation to arrest and surrender ICC suspects to the Court's custody when they travel to their territories.

"My Office has been of the firm and consistent view that such failures to apprehend Mr Al Bashir are not only a flagrant violation of the Rome Statute but equally undermine this Council's own reputation and are an affront to the respect owed to its resolutions. I have thus repeatedly urged the Council to employ its powers as a tangible demonstration of its disapproval of such failures."

Al Bashir, who has been indicted by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity and has an international arrest warrant out against him last week visited Chad, a country which had been referred to the Security Council for non-compliance on this matter in 2011 and 2013.

The Sudanese President also recently visited Russia and Uganda, among other countries.

In June 2015, he visited South Africa. While the Chamber established that there was no legal or factual justification for South Africa's failure to arrest and surrender Al Bashir, it decided against referring South Africa to the Assembly of States Parties or to the Security Council.

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