Arrest of Sudanese fugitives priority for ICC, Prosecutor tells Security Council

5 June 2009

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said today that his priorities over the next few months include continued monitoring of crimes in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region and the arrest of fugitives, including the country’s leader, President Omar Al-Bashir.

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said today that his priorities over the next few months include continued monitoring of crimes in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region and the arrest of fugitives, including the country’s leader, President Omar Al-Bashir.

The Court, which is based in The Hague, issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Al-Bashir on 4 March for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur, where estimated 300,000 people have died since 2003 due to fighting between Government forces and allied Arab militiamen, known as the Janjaweed.

“The arrest warrant concerning President Al-Bashir has been sent to the Sudanese authorities. The Government of the Sudan has the responsibility to arrest him,” Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told the Security Council, stressing the country’s legal obligations under the UN Charter and Security Council resolution 1593.

It was through resolution 1593 that the Council referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC in March 2005.

“The judges have issued decisions on those most responsible of the most serious crimes in Darfur,” he stated. “There will be no impunity in Darfur.

“We are at a crossroads. The next six months will be crucial,” he added. “There is a generation of victims faced with two options: they can leave the camps and die the same day; they can remain in the camps and die the day after.

“Violence will bring no victory. For the sake of the Darfur civilians, all parties to the conflict have to stop resorting to violence. This is the absolute priority.”

Mr. Al-Bashir became the first sitting Head of State to be indicted by the Court, which charged him with two counts of war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity. The ICC’s pre-trial chamber found there was insufficient evidence to charge him with genocide, but stressed that if the prosecution presents additional evidence the warrant could be amended at a later date.

“The Judges’ decision of 4 March has clarified the type of crimes committed in Darfur against the displaced persons in the camps,” said Mr. Moreno-Ocampo.

“While the peacekeepers monitor fighting between the parties to the conflict, while the humanitarian workers monitor the physical plight of the civilians, the International Criminal Court monitors individual behaviour that can constitute crimes within our jurisdiction.

“The intentional infliction of conditions of life in the camps, where the Sudanese state apparatus controlled by President Al-Bashir does not provide assistance and is obstructing the provision of assistance, and the multiple rapes of women leading to physical or mental traumas, are both crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court,” he stated.

The Prosecutor stressed that the Sudanese authorities also have the duty to arrest government minister Ahmed Harun and Janjaweed leader Ali Kushyab, both of whom have also been indicted by the Court.

“Arresting the persons sought by the Court is a process. It is first and foremost the responsibility of the Government of the Sudan,” he stated.

He added that States parties to the Rome Statute, which created the ICC, have the responsibility to arrest and surrender any indictee travelling to their territory; there is no immunity under the Rome Statute.

While States not party to the Statute have no such legal obligation, he pointed out that resolution 1593 urges them to cooperate fully with the Court.

The Prosecutor informed the Council that he does not plan to open a new investigation during the next six months but will continue to review new information of ongoing crimes. Among other things, he will focus on the spill over of violence from Darfur into neighbouring Chad, as well as the use of child soldiers by different parties, including some rebel movements.

 

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