Fatou Bensouda: ‘Ali Kushayb is the first, but not the last, to face ICC for Darfur war crimes
The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, has begun a two-day visit to Darfur in El Fasher, capital of North Darfur, meeting with the Wali (governor) of the state, as well as representatives of the displaced.
The official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) reports that at their meeting, in the presence of members of the government and the security committee of the state and the head of the state judiciary, Governor Mohamed Arabi affirmed support for the Juba agreement on peace in Sudan, and calling for all those indicted to appear before the ICC.
Addressing the meeting, Bensouda said that the accused former janjaweed leader Ali Kushayb, who is currently in custody and facing trial in The Hague, is “considered the first person to appear before the court for trial for crimes committed in Darfur but he will not be the last”.
Bensouda reiterated that the ICC would continue to demand that the government of Sudan hand over all those wanted by the court for crimes committed in Darfur.
She spoke of what she described as “difficulties that the court faced in its pursuit of justice for the families of the victims in Darfur,” which she said has reached the extent that some parties have recommended to drop the whole matter. This situation was reflected in the court’s failure to obtain the necessary support to pursue the case of justice in Darfur.
The ICC Prosecutor stressed that she and the team working with her were in a strong belief that justice would one day be achieved, and they had the determination to achieve this so that those who committed those crimes receive their fair punishment.
Bensouda added that her arrival in Darfur was “like a dream came true”, especially since it came 16 years after the UN Security Council referred the Darfur case to the International Criminal Court.
Bensouda expressed thanks to the families of the victims who gave the court their support and confidence, which she said, had it not been for them, the case would not have been reached these stages.
During the meeting, Arabi affirmed that the state’s government strongly supports the appearance of those accused of committing war crimes in Darfur before the ICC, considering that the court represents one of the mechanisms for achieving international, national and local justice, referring to what was stipulated in the peace agreement signed between the transitional government and the armed struggle movements in Juba, which approved a role for the ICC in achieving justice in Darfur.
During her meet with representatives of the displaced, she specifically voiced her concern about cases of gender-based violence.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Bensouda voiced thanks to the transitional government for coordinating the visit and the participants for their keenness on realising justice.
This will be Bensouda’s final visit to Sudan in her capacity as ICC Prosecutor, as her nine-year term expires on June 16. She will be replaced by British lawyer Karim Ahmed Khan. Khan was elected as the new Chief Prosecutor of the ICC in February and is set to succeed Bensouda for the next nine-year term.
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