ICC prosecutor asks Sudanese gov't to hand over suspects
United Nations, June 10: Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Fatou Bensouda on Wednesday called on the Sudanese government to hand over the suspects wanted by the ICC for crimes in Darfur.
In her briefing to the Security Council, Bensouda said the four outstanding arrest warrants must be executed and suspects must be handed over to the ICC.
The transfer of former Sudanese interior minister Ahmed Mohamed Haroun to the ICC is a matter of priority so that his case can be re-joined with the case of Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman, also known as Ali Kushayb, a militia commander, she told the Security Council in a briefing.
Ali Kushayb and Haroun were jointly charged with many of the same crimes. Their cases were separated because Ali Kushayb voluntarily surrendered himself to the ICC. Even though Ali Kushayb's confirmation of charges hearing took place from May 24-26, there is still a window of opportunity to re-join the cases at trial if Haroun is surrendered to the ICC now, she said.
"In addition to ensuring efficiencies and judicial economy, re-joining the cases at trial would obviate re-traumatization of witnesses who would have to be called twice to testify before the court," she noted.
Sudan is under a legal obligation to surrender the suspects pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1593. The Juba Peace Agreement is also clear that all suspects must appear before the ICC and that Sudan should fully cooperate with the court in its investigation and prosecution of these suspects, she said. "Sudan has to tangibly demonstrate that the new Sudan is now a fully-fledged member of the international community that has joined the fight against impunity and is fully committed to justice and the rule of law."
Almost all the suspects are in the custody of the Sudanese government and there is no legal impediment to their surrender to the ICC. In particular, credible reports and other information indicate that Haroun has expressed his wish to be transferred to the ICC, said Bensouda. "I appeal to this (Security) Council to prevail upon Sudan to immediately honor Mr. Haroun's wish and facilitate his transfer to the ICC without delay."
Additionally, Sudan has to fully cooperate with her office's investigations, including through providing unhindered access to its territory; access to relevant records, information and materials as well as protection of witnesses, said Bensouda.
She said the ICC and the Sudanese government have turned a new page in their relationship after the ouster of former President Omar al-Bashir, who himself is wanted by the ICC and in the custody of the Sudanese government.
The old days of hostilities and non-cooperation have been replaced by constructive dialogue and good spirit of cooperation. Following the conclusion of a memorandum of understanding between her office and the Sudanese government on Feb. 14, ICC investigators have undertaken investigative activities in Sudan and have begun to prepare to go to Darfur soon, she said.
But she cautioned that the road ahead remains long and fraught with dangers.
"We are all aware that the transition in Sudan is still in its infancy and needs nurturing to mature. We can thus not be lulled into a false sense of security. Today, peace and justice continues to elude the people of Darfur. They continue to suffer in IDP (internally displaced person) camps and for them, accountability remains critical for lasting peace in the Darfur region," she said.
Bensouda's briefing to the Security Council on Wednesday was her last one. She is leaving office after nine years as the prosecutor of the ICC. She will be replaced by British lawyer Karim Khan.