New York — In her 27th six-monthly report to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) presented today, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, called on the Council for action towards bringing those accused of crimes against humanity in Darfur to be brought to justice.
"It is over thirteen years since the Council referred the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court and directed me to report to it every six months on actions taken and progress made pursuant to the Resolution. After thirteen years and twenty-seven reports, the victims of grave crimes which prompted this Council to refer the Darfur situation to the ICC are yet to see those alleged to be most responsible for such crimes face justice.
"The question begs asking: how many more years and how many more reports will be required for this Council to be galvanized into taking tangible action? How much longer should victims of the alleged atrocity crimes in Darfur suffer in silence or wait to have their torment acknowledged through concrete results?
"This Council has an important role to play in supporting the effective implementation of its own Resolution which referred the Darfur situation to the Court...
"Regrettably, the Government of the Sudan has not only refused to cooperate with the Court, in clear violation of the Council's Resolution, but has rather been emboldened to publicly denounce the Court in this forum...
"The eyes of the world are upon us; the eyes of victims and victims' groups in Darfur, some of whom are present today, are upon us. They are owed at least this minimum decorum and they deserve not to have their ordeals undermined by rhetoric aimed at confusing the issues and distracting the Council's and the world's attention from what we are really concerned with here: the need to ensure there is accountability through the Court's independent judicial process for the serious and destabilising crimes under the Rome Statute committed in Darfur."
Bensouda points out that "sustainable peace and stability can only return to Darfur once the root causes of conflict are addressed. This includes ending impunity for alleged crimes under the Rome Statute in Darfur and ensuring accountability for the victims of these serious crimes.
"The collective efforts aimed at ensuring this accountability, which I have outlined in my report, will go on. My Office will continue to play its role, together with the other organs of the Court and the international community at large. I appeal to the courageous women and men who are victims of the past and on-going crimes in Darfur not to despair but to bear with us and continue to cooperate with our ongoing investigations.
"Today, I ask the Council, as the body that began the process of accountability for Rome Statute crimes in Darfur, to more actively play its part in these collective efforts. In particular, to show its support for my Office's investigations through facilitation of UN funding and also by taking steps to ensure that my Office obtains the cooperation it needs, including from the Sudan.
"Finally, I respectfully request this Council to provide its support to secure the arrest and surrender of the Darfur suspects. This is a pre-requisite to justice being done for the thousands of victims in the Darfur situation and a vital next step in the process that this Council started with its referral of the Darfur situation to my Office.
"In addition to falling short of adequately responding to the legitimate calls of victims for justice, the status quo will not only erode public confidence in the cause of international criminal justice in Darfur, but also in the Council itself. We must work together more effectively, within our respective mandates, to ensure full implementation and compliance with Resolution 1593. With over a decade since this Council adopted that Resolution, it is past time that we did just that. We must act collectively and with resolve. My Office remains firm in its commitment and a ready partner in that joint obligation," Bensouda concludes.