International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda called yesterday’s meeting with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok ‘productive’. She also said her visit to Sudan is ‘very historic’.
Prosecutor Bensouda held separate meetings with the Sudanese prime minister, the deputy chairman of the Sovereign Council and commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’, and member of the Sovereign Council Mohamed El Taayshi and Justice Minister Nasreldin Abdelbari. Bensouda arrived in Khartoum on Saturday night.
Hamdok stated that “Sudan's commitment to achieving justice is not just one of international obligations, but comes in response to popular demands for justice, and the implementation of the slogans of the glorious revolution that demanded, among other things, justice”.
Hemeti said after his meeting with Bensouda that the transitional government is willing to cooperate with the International Criminal Court. He stressed the independence of the Sudanese judiciary, and said that the Sudanese government “never interferes in court cases”.
Bensouda said that she aims to coordinate with the Sudanese judiciary, and discuss the work of the ICC in Darfur. Also, she is seeking the cooperation of the Sudanese authorities in collecting information and evidence related to the ICC case on Ali Abdelrahman 'Kushayb' “as soon as possible”. The Abdelrahman case was also discussed with Sovereign Council member El Taayshi and Justice Minister Nasreldin Abdelbari.
Bensouda also seeks cooperation with regard to the ICC arrest warrants against Omar Al Bashir, Ahmed Haroun and Abdelrahim Hussein.
The investigations of the ICC, that started in June 2005, led to the indictment of former Interior Minister Ahmed Haroun, and janjaweed leader Ali Abdelrahman (also known as Ali Kushayb) in 2007. In 2009, Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir was indicted for crimes against humanity and war crimes, and rebel leader Abdallah Banda for war crimes. A year later, Al Bashir was also officially accused of genocide in Darfur. Former Defence Minister Abdelrahim Hussein was charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes in 2012.
Abdelrahman is in ICC custody since June. Al Bashir, Haroun and Hussein are held in prison in Sudan. Banda is considered a fugitive. Al Bashir has been convicted of corruption in Sudan in December 2019 and sentenced to two years in prison. Ten days after his conviction, Al Bashir was charged with crimes in Darfur. He was questioned about war crimes in Darfur last week. In April 2020 he was charged in Sudan with undermining the constitutional order, when he staged a military coup against the democratically elected government of Prime Minister El Sadig El Mahdi and President Ahmed El Mirghani that brought Al Bashir to power.
Bensouda stressed the need to achieve justice, especially for the victims in Darfur.
Sudanese Revolutionary Front
The Sudanese Revolutionary Front rebel alliance welcomed Bensouda’s visit to Khartoum. The rebels call on the Sudanese government to fully cooperate with the ICC and hand over the three suspects. They see Bensouda’s visit as “an important step for the victims of the genocide”.
The Eastern Sudan Bar Association said that it will use the ICC Prosecutor’s visit to Khartoum to draw attention to “the genocide, forced displacement and targeting of people in eastern Sudan for more than a year in plain view of the authorities”. It described what is happening in eastern Sudan as similar to the ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur.