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EU High Representative on World Day for International Justice 2021: ‘Impunity must not be an option’

July 17 - 2021 BRUSSELS / THE HAGUE
The International Criminal Court in the Hage, the Netherlands (File photo: Andrew Bergman / RD)
The International Criminal Court in the Hage, the Netherlands (File photo: Andrew Bergman / RD)

To mark the World Day for International Criminal Justice today, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, has voiced the EU’s continued support for the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, emphasising that “impunity must not be an option. Nowhere. For no one.”

The World Day for International Criminal Justice is observed every year on July 17 to commemorate the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 1998.

“This as an important moment to reflect on the importance of fighting impunity and bringing justice for the victims of the most serious crimes: genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity... As the world’s first and only permanent international criminal court, the International Criminal Court plays a crucial role in a shared rules-based global order and in advancing the fight against impunity for international crimes. Despite this crucial role, its work and independence continue to be frequently challenged,” Borrell says.

He pledges that :the European Union is committed to protect the judicial independence of the ICC and the integrity of the Rome Statute. “We stand firm against any attempt to discredit the Court and obstruct its work. We will work together with the Court and all States to make the ICC stronger and more effective, including through the ongoing process of review of the Court’s functioning, while ensuring that the core principles and values embodied in the Rome Statute are upheld and protected.”

Borrell assures that the European Union will continue to provide diplomatic, political, and financial support to the ICC, “to allow it to carry out effectively its vital work on behalf of victims of grave international crimes. Moreover, the EU and its Member States will continue their work in favour of the universal ratification and full implementation of the Rome Statute.”

‘The ICC can only fulfil its mandate with the active engagement, cooperation, and support of the States Parties to the Rome Statute’ – Josep Borrell

Borrell underlines that the ICC can only fulfil its mandate with the active engagement, cooperation, and support of the States Parties, and calls on them “to cooperate with the ICC and abide by their commitments to uphold the rule of law, whether at the ICC or in their national courts.

“Today we also pay tribute to the many committed and courageous individuals who work in the field of international justice and who are seeking justice for atrocity crimes. In this context, we would like to thank Fatou Bensouda for her determined and dedicated work as Prosecutor and, previously, Deputy Prosecutor of the ICC during the last 17 years. At the same time, we welcome the assumption of office of Karim Khan as Prosecutor of the ICC on 16 June and reiterate our support to the work of the Office of the Prosecutor.

“Furthermore, civil society and human rights defenders play a crucial role in ensuring that violations of human rights and international humanitarian law are exposed, documented, and denounced. By doing so, they valuably contribute to the protection of victims of international crimes and of their rights.”

In conclusion, Borrell says that “the day of international criminal justice reminds us that we need to continue working at both national and international levels, to strengthen the system of international criminal justice. We must ensure that the perpetrators of the most serious crimes are brought to justice and held to account. We owe it to the victims of these atrocious crimes.”

Sudan to hand indictees to ICC

In a ‘unanimous decision’ last month, Sudan’s Cabinet pledged to hand former officials indicted for war crimes in Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The decision shortly follows the visit to Sudan and Darfur by outgoing ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, during which she stressed the necessity of handing over former Minister of the Interior Ahmed Haroun, accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity, to the ICC before the end of July so that he can be tried along with Ali Abdelrahman (Kushayb) in The Hague.

Darfur war crimes

The Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague in the Netherlands today issued a unanimous decision confirming all 31 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity against former Darfur janjaweed leader Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman (aka Ali Kushayb), and committed him to trial before a Trial Chamber.

As previously reported by Radio Dabanga, Kushayb initially appeared before the ICC on June 15. He then appeared before Pre-Trial Chamber II on May 24-26.Dressed in a grey suit and flanked by two (socially distanced) security officers, Kushayb (referred to officially for court purposes as Abd-Al-Rahman) listened calmly to three days of submissions from the prosecution and legal representation of the victims.

Warrant of arrest

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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