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Sudan Cabinet unanimous on bill to join Rome Statute of ICC

August 3 - 2021 KHARTOUM
The ICC in The Hague (File photo: Andrew Bergman / RD)
The ICC in The Hague (File photo: Andrew Bergman / RD)

The Council of Ministers constituting Sudan’s Cabinet today unanimously passed a draft law for Sudan to accede to and ratify the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The announcement follows a similarly unanimous decision by the Cabinet in June to hand former officials indicted for war crimes in Darfur to the ICC.

In an announcement via social media this afternoon, Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok says that “during the periodic meeting of the Council of Ministers, and unanimously, we passed the draft law on Sudan’s accession to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.” The draft must now be approved by a joint meeting between the two houses of the Transitional Sovereignty Council and the Council of Ministers for approval.”

In his statement, PM Hamdok emphasises: “Justice and accountability are the firm foundation of the new Sudan committed to the rule of law that we all seek to build.”

The new attitude of Sudan to the ICC 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 so that he can be tried along with Ali Abdelrahman (Kushayb) in The Hague.

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.

In February 2020, Sudanese authorities also agreed that deposed dictator Omar Al Bashir and others indicted for war crimes and genocide by the International Criminal Court 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, and in 2010 for genocide. He has already been convicted of currency offences, and given a custodial sentence by a Khartoum court, but as he still faces charges in Sudan, he remains incarcerated in the notorious Kober prison in Khartoum North, where so many of his opponents were detained and tortured during the 30 years of his repressive regime.

During her visit to Darfur, Bensouda, who was succeeded by Karim Asad Ahmad Khan QC on 19 June, stressed that 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”. In her valedictory message, Bensouda underscored that “we [the ICC] have come a long way together indeed, but we have miles to go before we sleep.”

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