Sudan: Darfur Lawyers - ICC Visit 'Historic'

International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda meeting Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok in Khartoum

Khartoum — The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, arrived in Sudan late on Saturday evening. The Darfur Bar Association welcomed the visit and described it as historic for Sudan, and for the families of victims.

During the visit, the first since the UN Security Council referred the situation in Darfur to the court in March 2005, the ICC delegation will hold meetings with the prime minister, the ministers of Justice and Foreign Affairs, the Attorney General, and members of the Sovereign Council.

The meetings will discuss ways to cooperate between the ICC and Sudan regarding the extradition of ousted President Omar Al Bashir, his close aide Abdelrahim Hussein, and former senior official Ahmed Haroun, all of whom are currently imprisoned in Kober Prison in Khartoum North.

Fatou Bensouda was welcomed at Khartoum International Airport on Saturday evening by the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Justice, Siham Osman, and a number of officials from the Ministry of Justice and the Office of the Attorney General.

Darfur Bar

The Darfur Bar Association (DBA) welcomed the ICC delegation in a statement yesterday, saying that Bensouda's visit affirms Sudan's conviction to carry out its international obligations.

"The members of the Sovereign Council and the Council of Ministers must fulfil Sudan's international obligations and to hand over all indicted persons to the ICC, and to facilitate measures in obtaining any evidence requested by the court," reads the statement.

In order to achieve justice for the victims, and to prevent the accused from escaping punishment for the many other crimes committed during the 30-year regime of Al Bashir, Khartoum must sign an agreement with the ICC that guarantees that after the indicted Sudanese officials have been tried in The Hague, they will be brought to court in Sudan. The DBA will contact the Minister of Defence in this regard.

The Attorney General should take the appropriate measures to enable victims and their families to lodge official complaints against crimes that have been committed, which they were not able to do during the reign of Al Bashir. "The complaints that were filed, but put in drawers, must be investigated."

The DBA will inform the ICC prosecution of the deficiencies and gaps in evidence which have come about due to delay of prosecution of the crimes. The lawyers are currently working on completing and guaranteeing the integrity of evidence which will be presented to the court.

Background

The investigations of the ICC that started in June 2005 led to the indictment of former Interior Minister Ahmed Haroun, and janjaweed leader Ali 'Kushayb' in 2007.

In 2009, Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir was indicted for crimes against humanity and war crimes, and rebel leader Abdallah Banda, for war crimes. A year later, Al Bashir was also officially accused of genocide in Darfur. Former Defence Minister Abdelrahim Hussein, was charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes in 2012.

Kushayb voluntarily surrendered to the court this year and is now in custody in The Hague. Banda is considered a fugitive.

On December 14 last year Al Bashir, who ruled the country for 30 years and was deposed by a military coup on April 11, 2019, was convicted on charges of corruption and currency irregularities, and sentenced to two years in a 'correctional facility' designed for older prisoners.

He is still being held in Khartoum's Kober Prison, as he is awaiting trial on charges regarding the killing of demonstrators following the violent dismantling of the sit-in in front of the army command in Khartoum on June 3, 2019.

In March, the public prosecutor formally charged Al Bashir, several of his senior military aides, and a number of Islamist leaders of undermining the constitutional order in June 1989, when they staged a military coup against the democratically elected government of Prime Minister El Sadig El Mahdi and President Ahmed El Mirghani.

Al Bashir and his affiliates have also been charged with abuse of power and corruption between 1989 and 2019.

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