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International Criminal Court to establish office in Sudan

August 13 - 2021 KHARTOUM
ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan QC at a press conference at the end of his week-long visit to Sudan (SUNA)
ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan QC at a press conference at the end of his week-long visit to Sudan (SUNA)

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague will establish an office with a permanent team in Sudan to investigate the cases of the indicted officials who will be handed over to the court.

In a press conference in Khartoum at the end of his week-long visit to Sudan, ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan QC said the court needs more evidence on the cases of deposed President Omar Al Bashir, former Minister of Defence Abdelrahim Hussein, and former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs Ahmed Haroun*.

We have made achievements during the visit, and there are signs of hope, but the journey is not completed yet, the Prosecutor said.

He reported that the ICC signed a new Memorandum of Understanding with the Sudanese government, represented by the Minister of Justice, that stipulates cooperation and exchange of information on all cases of those wanted by the court. The previous memorandum concerned the case of Ali Abdelrahman 'Kushayb'* only.

Khan as well announced the establishment of an ICC office with a permanent team in Sudan to further investigate the cases and gather more evidence against the indicted persons. He plans to return to Sudan in November and visit Darfur.

For next week, the Sudanese government scheduled an online meeting, during which the ICC Chief Prosecutor will officially approve the decision of Sudan to join the Rome Statute of the ICC. The prosecutor said he does not know the date of the extradition of the indicted former officials.

Press conference of ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan QC in Khartoum on Thursday (in English)


As for the case of former janjaweed leader Ali Abdelrahman ‘Kushayb’, who is currently awaiting trial in The Hague, the ICC prosecutor said that the charges have been confirmed and judges appointed. The trial dates are still to be set.

In December 2020, former ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda expressed her concerns about the possibility of collecting information and evidence related to the ICC case on Kushayb before his hearing, explaining that “time is running out”. She said that if no date has been set for investigators to visit Sudan to collect the information, her office will lose the opportunity to deal with victims and witnesses to crimes allegedly committed during attacks against civilians between August 2003 and March 2004.

Arrest warrants

The ICC issued arrest warrants against Haroun and janjaweed leader 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.

In February 2020, Sudanese authorities also agreed that Al Bashir, Haroun, and Hussein will be transferred to The Hague to face justice. Al Bashir was indicted by the ICC in 2009 for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, and in 2010 for genocide. He was convicted of corruption by a Khartoum court in December 2019 and sentenced to two years in a prison for the elderly. He still faces various other charges in Sudan, including staging a military coup in 1989. The ICC  issued an arrest warrant against Abdelrahim Hussein in 2012 for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. He and Haroun are also being held in prison in Khartoum.

The ICC issued another arrest warrant in 2014, accusing Abdallah Banda, commander-in-chief of a breakaway faction of the Justice and Equality Movement, of war crimes in Darfur. The former rebel leader is still at large.

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