The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court accused the UN Security Council on Wednesday of failing to take action against countries that didn’t arrest Sudan’s president to face charges of genocide in his country’s Darfur region.
Fatou Bensouda told the council that more than 13 years after it referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC, the victims have yet to see President Omar al-Bashir or the four other men alleged to be most responsible arrested or face justice.
She urged the council “to take concrete action” against countries that refused to arrest al-Bashir, and she outlined ICC cases currently taking place against Uganda, Chad and Jordan.
Bensouda also asked the council to support ICC investigations by facilitating UN funding and “by taking steps to ensure that my office obtains the co-operation it needs, including from Sudan.”
The vast western Darfur region of Sudan was gripped by bloodshed in 2003 when rebels took up arms against the government in Khartoum, accusing it of discrimination and neglect. The government was accused of retaliating by arming local nomadic Arab tribes and unleashing them on civilian populations — a charge it denies.
In recent years, as the result of a successful government military campaign, the rebellion has been reduced to rebel Sudan Liberation Army forces loyal to founder Abdul Wahid Elnur in western Jebel Marra. The United Nations says 300 000 people have died in the conflict and 2.7 million have fled their homes.
Sudan is not a party to the ICC and refuses to recognize its jurisdiction. Some African countries have been especially critical of the ICC for pursuing heads of state and for focusing on the continent.
While Bensouda stressed that only governments have the power to arrest suspects and hand them over to the ICC, she asked the Security Council “to provide its support to secure the arrest and surrender of the Darfur suspects.”
“This is a prerequisite to justice being done for the thousands of victims in the Darfur situation,” she said.