The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said today that attacks against peacekeepers in Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region will be investigated by the Court.
“Any attack against peacekeepers is a crime under my jurisdiction,” Luis Moreno-Ocampo told a news conference in New York, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Rome Statute, which created the world’s first independent and permanent court established to try those responsible for the most horrendous crimes.
The Prosecutor can examine cases that are referred to The Hague-based Court by the Security Council, referred by a State party to the Rome Statute or on his own initiative.
Three years ago, the Security Council asked the Prosecutor to investigate atrocities committed in Darfur, where some 300,000 people have been killed since 2003, either through direct combat or disease, malnutrition or reduced life expectancy, while another 2.7 million people have been displaced from their homes.
Mr. Moreno-Ocampo is already investigating last September’s attack by rebels on the South Darfur town of Haskanita, which resulted in the deaths of several African Union (AU) peacekeepers, and said he has the names of the alleged perpetrators.
“We have the names of two commanders who were allegedly responsible for this [attack],” he stated. “We are still looking for the evidence.”
The Prosecutor called on the rebels to “provide evidence … and stop any crimes,” reiterating that “anytime they commit any attack against peacekeepers, it is under my jurisdiction and I will investigate that.”
His comments come as another peacekeeper serving with the joint UN-AU force in Darfur (UNAMID) was killed yesterday while on patrol in the region, just one week after seven blue helmets with the mission were slain.
The attack has been condemned by UNAMID’s Force Commander, Martin Luther Agwai, who vowed: “We will not let these sort of criminal acts against our peacekeepers impede our mission in Darfur.”
Earlier this week, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo presented evidence to the ICC against Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir for alleged war crimes in Darfur, including genocide.
“We are charging Al-Bashir with three counts of genocide, five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes,” he said.
The evidence presented shows that Mr. Al-Bashir masterminded and implemented a plan to destroy in substantial part the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa groups, on account of their ethnicity.
If indicted by the Court, the Sudanese President would become the first sitting Head of State to be charged by the ICC.