The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, on Wednesday urged Sudan’s transitional authorities to hand over ousted President Omar al-Bashir and several others on their war crimes in Darfur.
“Now is the time for the people of Sudan to choose law over impunity and ensure that the ICC suspects in the Darfur situation finally face justice in a court of law,” Bensouda told the UN security Council in New York.
“Now the Council has also been presented with a unique opportunity to decisively and effectively address the impunity that has plagued Darfur.”
She also expressed concern over “reports of recent violence perpetrated against civilians, including alleged sexual and gender-based crimes.”
“It is imperative that allegations of violence against civilians, including sexual and gender-based violence, are promptly and effectively investigated by the Sudanese authorities, and that those responsible are brought to justice,” Bensouda told Council members.
“Within the scope of my mandate and jurisdiction under the Rome Statute, I am committed to continuing to do all that I can to secure accountability in Sudan,” she said.
She stressed that all five ICC arrest warrants in the Darfur situation remain in force despite a dramatic change in circumstances.
“Bashir has been deposed, arrested, detained and charged with domestic offenses. Two other suspects in the Darfur situation, Messrs Abdel Raheem Hussein and Ahmad Harun are also reportedly detained in Khartoum,” she said.
“Sudan remains under a legal obligation to transfer these suspects to the ICC to stand trial, unless it can demonstrate to the Judges of the International Criminal Court that it is willing and able to genuinely prosecute them for the same cases,” Bensouda said.
“Consistent with the bedrock principle of complementarity enshrined in the Rome Statute, I am ready to engage in dialogue with the authorities in Sudan to ensure that the Darfur suspects face independent and impartial justice, either in a courtroom in The Hague, or in Sudan,” she added.
As for Mark Simonoff, Minister Counselor of the US Mission to the United Nations, he condemned the Transitional Military Council’s “reprehensible attacks on demonstrators in Khartoum” which have led to over 100 deaths and hundreds injured.
“Reports of security forces beating and sexually assaulting protesters, and throwing victims into the Nile must be fully and fairly investigated,” he said.
“The TMC’s grotesque display of violence against peaceful demonstrators in Khartoum was not an isolated incident. The government has also used excessive violence against internally displaced people in Darfur to stop peaceful rallies,” he added.
Al Sharq AwSat