Monday, December 17, 2012

No Arrests and Little Progress on Darfur Cases, ICC Prosecutor Tells United Nations Security Council

Security Council Deliberates on Sudan
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda briefs the UN Security Council on December 13th. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe.

By Kirkland Green

On December 13, 2012 ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda delivered the 16th report of the her office to the United Nations Security Council. It was her first report to the Security Council which in March 2005 referred the matter to the Court. The Prosecutor told the Council that ICC indictments have not put an end to atrocity crimes in the region, including underreported alleged widespread occurrence of sexual and gender based violence. 

Mrs. Bensouda urged the Council to take a greater role in preventing continuing atrocities by ensuring that states fully cooperate with the ICC. The Court has done its work in issuing arrest warrants pursuant to the jurisdiction granted by UNSC Resolution 1953. The Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC has issued arrest warrants or summonses to appear for President Omar Al Bashir, Ahmad Harun, Ali Kushayb, Bahar Idriss Abu Garda, Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain, Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus, and Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein. The Prosecutor said that the "justice process is an essential component of any strategy aimed at truly stopping ongoing crimes, by publicly exposing to the highest independent judicial standards the reasons why and how these crimes have been committed; who has been responsible for them; and how they must be stopped."

Mrs. Bensouda emphasized that “investigating the Darfur situation remains an enormous challenge for the Office.” She did note the assistance received from relevant state organizations such as the African Union and the League of Arab States in investigating alleged atrocity crimes in Darfur. However, the Prosecutor reported that Sudan is “nether prepared to hand over the suspects nor to prosecute them for their crimes.”  She also noted the failure of states such as Chad and Malawi to arrest Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir when he was on their territory, as they are obligated to do as ICC States Parties, and surrender him to the ICC. According to the Prosecutor, the Court has communicated to the Council instances of non-cooperation on the part of the Government of Sudan with the Security Council six separate times but has not received a meaningful response. 

The United States, as a permanent member of the Security Council, made a statement welcoming the Prosecutor's report: "Reversing the cycle of violence and impunity requires accountability for the perpetrators. The ICC’s prosecution of the architects of the atrocities in Darfur is crucial in that regard," said Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, Alternate Representative of the US for Special Political Affairs in the UN. "We continue to urge all States to refrain from providing political or financial support to those individuals [wanted by the ICC], and we will work to prevent any such support," he said at the meeting.

Progress has been made towards the case of The Prosecutor v. Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain and Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus for their role in the rebel attack on the African Union peacekeeping base at Haskanita, North Darfur. Banda and Jerbo appeared voluntarily before the Pre-Trial Chamber on June 17, 2010. That trial is expected to start in 2013, but has experienced some difficulty because defense material must be translated in Zaghawa, a language which has no written form.

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