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Darfur janjaweed leader Ali Kushayb’s challenge to ICC jurisdiction fails

November 2 - 2021 THE HAGUE
Former Darfur janjaweed leader Ali Muhammad Ali Abdelrahman (also known as Ali Kushayb) appears at the ICC in May 2021 (Picture ICC-CPI).
Former Darfur janjaweed leader Ali Muhammad Ali Abdelrahman (also known as Ali Kushayb) appears at the ICC in May 2021 (Picture ICC-CPI).

The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague in the Netherlands has unanimously rejected an appeal by former Darfur janjaweed leader Ali Muhammad Ali Abdelrahman (also known as Ali Kushayb), against the Pre-Trial Chamber II decision of 17 May 2021, rejecting a challenge of the court’s jurisdiction by Kushayb’s defence counsel.

In a statement from The Hague, the ICC announced that the Appeals Chamber of the ICC, composed of Judge Piotr Hofmański, presiding in this appeal, Judge Luz del Carmen Ibáñez Carranza, Judge Perrin de Brichambaut, Judge Solomy Balungi Bossa, and Judge Gocha Lordkipanidze, decided unanimously to reject the appeal against the Pre-Trial Chamber II decision of 17 May 2021 on the Defence’s jurisdictional challenge (exception d’incompétence).

Presiding Judge Piotr Hofmański, read a summary of the Judgment in an open hearing on Monday. In rejecting the Defence’s four grounds of appeal, the Appeals Chamber highlighted, among other matters, that it found no error in the reasons given by the Pre-Trial Chamber defining a “situation” before the Court as defined in terms of temporal, territorial and in some cases personal parameters. It also found that the non-funding by the United Nations of the activities of the Court arising from a referral by the Security Council does not invalidate the UNSC resolution 1593 which referred the situation to the ICC. As for the alleged failure of the Pre-Trial Chamber to take into account the lack of the Security Council logistical and security support to the Court in Sudan, the Appeals Chamber finds that the Defence has not demonstrated how this alleged error of law relates to the jurisdiction of the Court.

Finally, and referring to the principle of legality, nullum crimen sine lege, the Appeals Chamber found that the referral of the Situation in Darfur, Sudan took place in the wake of serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law that were criminalised under international law at the time.

The Appeals Chamber also found that the crimes under the Statute were intended to be generally representative of the state of customary international law when the Statute was drafted. This weighs heavily in favour of the foreseeability of facing prosecution for such crimes even in relation to conduct occurring in a State not party to the Statute. Judge Ibáñez expressed her separate views concerning this ground of appeal and while agreeing with the outcome reached by the majority, she considered that, in her view, the jurisdiction of the Court over the conduct in this case pre-dates UNSC Resolution 1593, which only triggered the Court’s jurisdiction and thus there is no need to refer to any other sources of law.

Indictment

As previously reported by Radio Dabanga, Kushayb, who faces 31 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Darfur, initially appeared before the ICC on June 15.He then appeared before Pre-Trial Chamber II on May 24-26 to hear submissions from the prosecution and legal representation of the victims.

Kushayb has yet to enter a plea, and his defence has thus far been based largely on insisting that his name is Abd-Al-Rahman, and that he is not the person referred to as Ali Kushayb.

The ICC issued arrest warrants against former Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Ahmed Haroun, and Kushayb in 2007. Kushayb was transferred to the ICC’s custody on June 9, 2020 after surrendering himself voluntarily in the Central African Republic. Upon his arrest, the Sudanese government announced its support for his transfer to the ICC. Kushayb is also charged with a number of crimes by the Sudanese authorities.


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