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Bensouda: 'Security Council inaction encourages Al Bashir to defy ICC'

June 10 - 2016 NEW YORK
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda (file photo)
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda (file photo)

The lack of international action against President Omer Al Bashir has emboldened him to defy international justice and to travel around the world, said International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Thursday in a briefing to the Security Council.

She said that Council’s failure to act has “equally emboldened states, both parties as well as certain non-parties to the Rome Statute, not only to facilitate Mr Al Bashir’s travels to their territories but to invite and host him”.

Prosecutor Bensouda provided a semi-annual briefing to the Council on the Court’s work on Darfur, presenting her twenty-third report to the Council on the situation in Darfur.

'How many more such findings must be rendered by the Court to spur this Council into action?'

She emphasised that such an evolving trend risked setting an “ominous precedent,” which, unless redirected, will not bode well for similar genuine efforts aimed at bringing those responsible for mass atrocities to justice. “Above all, such non-feasance has emboldened some States to publicly express pride in disregarding the Council’s authority,” she said, which should be a matter of great concern to all.

The Sudanese president was recently in Djibouti and Uganda, two states that are member to the Rome Statute, and was able to return to Sudan.

Bensouda further said that her work on Darfur was complicated by the lack of access to Sudanese territory, resource constraints, and non-execution of the long-outstanding arrest warrants against Sudanese officials, which have all contributed to the slow progress in investigations.

“A reasonable observer cannot be faulted for asking: how many more such findings must be rendered by the Court to spur this Council into action?,” Bensouda asked. “The Council cannot and must not remain silent and non-responsive on such judicial findings which are, after all, inherently linked to the resolution referring the Situation of Darfur to my Office.”

This month, the Council will hold a briefing, followed by consultations, on the AU-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (Unamid). Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous is expected to provide the briefing. The Council needs to renew the mandate of Unamid, which expires on 30 June. 

Last month, however, the Sudanese government reiterated its commitment to the exit of Unamid, and confirmed its “continued dialogue with the African Union” and “the support of its friends in the Security Council until the UN forces exit Darfur as they entered it”.

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced the suspension of the investigation into war crimes in Darfur for a lack of action by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on 12 December 2014. The hibernation does not mean that the prosecutor's office has abandoned the Darfur case. “In fact, far from it,” Bensouda said in an exclusive interview with Radio Dabanga in March 2015.

The full report of the 23rd report of the ICC Prosecutor to the Security Council

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