International Criminal Court launches investigation into surging violence in Darfur
The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Thursday that he is investigating fresh allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Darfur region, including the recent killings of 87 members of the ethnic Masalit community, reportedly carried out by the Rapid Security Forces and its militia.
Briefing the Security Council, Prosecutor Karim Khan, said that the mandate of his office, pursuant to resolution 1593 referring the situation in Darfur to the Court in 2005, was clear.
“[Our mandate is] ongoing with respect to crimes within our jurisdiction, the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes; and any individual who is found to be committing those crimes within our jurisdiction will be investigated,” he said.
‘No stone unturned’
“And depending upon assessments by the independent judges of the ICC, we will strain every sinew and leave no stone unturned to ensure that they are held accountable in fair and independent trials.”
Mr. Khan went on to urge the 15-member Security Council to “converge” around the principles of the UN Charter, the obligations under the Rome Statute of the ICC, and the authority of the Council itself, which in 2005 determined that the violence in Darfur and Sudan overall, represented a threat to international peace and security.
“And it applies not only in acts committed in Sudan, any individual that aids, abets, encourages or directs from outside Sudan crimes that may be committed in Darfur will also be investigated,” the Prosecutor stressed.
Mr. Khan informed ambassadors that he has given “clear instructions” to his office to prioritize crimes against children, and crimes of sexual and gender based violence.
He also announced that a secure online portal has been setup where individuals can submit information or allegations of crimes and rights violations.
“We will ensure, God willing, that justice is not only spoken about in this [Security Council] Chamber, but it is felt to vindicate the rights of civilians and the vulnerable in ways that they have not seen sufficiently in their lived experiences,” said Mr. Khan.
‘Uphold international law’
The ICC Prosecutor also called on the warring factions in Sudan to uphold their fundamental obligations under international humanitarian law and protect civilians.
“It is essential that those involved in hostilities recognize – however late in the day – that they have to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law,” he underscored.
Update on cases
In his briefing, Mr. Khan also provided an update pursuant to resolution 1593, including progress in the trial of Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman, a senior leader of the Janjaweed militia in Darfur, as well as other cases including of the former president Omar Al Bashir, and former ministers Ahmad Muhammad Harun and Abdel Raheem Muhammed Hussein, who are charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
“The escalating situation of violent hostilities, including alleged crimes, and the current state of the Sudanese institutions, further highlight the inability of the Government of Sudan to tangibly and genuinely give priority to justice and accountability,” the report said.
“Under the present circumstances, it is not feasible to engage in discussions with the Government of Sudan regarding complementarity,” it added, noting that the Office of the Prosecutor is engaging with relevant partners over outstanding arrest warrants against Mr. Al Bashir, Mr. Hussein and Mr. Harun, especially in light of the ongoing hostilities between the national army and RSF militia.
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