What's In Blue

Posted Tue 8 Jun 2021

Briefing: ICC Sudan

Tomorrow (9 June), the Security Council will convene in person to receive the semi-annual briefing of the ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, related to the Court’s work on Darfur. Bensouda, who will participate via videoconference, will provide her final briefing to the Council, as her nine-year term as ICC Prosecutor ends on 15 June. (On 12 February, Karim Asad Ahmad Khan, who most recently served as the Special Adviser and head of the UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD), was elected to succeed her.)

Sudan is not a state party to the Rome Statute of the ICC. The Security Council referred the situation in Darfur, Sudan, to the ICC in resolution 1593, adopted on 31 March 2005. (Algeria, Brazil, China, and the US abstained on the resolution.) The Council invited the ICC Prosecutor to update it every six months on actions taken pursuant to resolution 1593. The investigations regarding Darfur focus on allegations of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur since 1 July 2002.

During her briefing tomorrow, Bensouda is likely to update Council members on the status of the suspects in the Darfur situation. Following the surrender and transfer to the Court of Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman (also known as Ali Kushayb) in June 2020, four ICC arrest warrants remain outstanding against former President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir, Ahmad Muhammad Harun, Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein, and Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain. Since July 2020, Al Bashir has been on trial in Sudan for charges relating to the 1989 military coup that brought him to power, including for allegedly undermining the constitutional order and the use of military force to commit crimes. Haroun and Hussein have been under arrest in Khartoum since April 2019, while Banda remains a fugitive from the Court and his whereabouts are unknown. The Office of the Prosecutor is in an ongoing dialogue with the government of Sudan aimed at ensuring accountability for the ICC suspects and justice for the victims in Darfur. Sudan remains under an obligation to surrender the four remaining suspects in the Darfur situation to the Court, pursuant to resolution 1593 and the subsequent orders of ICC judges.

Bensouda is also expected to inform the Council of the Court’s recent judicial activities. On 26 May, the confirmation of charges hearing in the case The Prosecutor v. Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman (“Ali Kushayb”) concluded before Pre-Trial Chamber II of the ICC. According to the Prosecution, Abd-Al-Rahman is suspected of 31 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed between August 2003 and at least April 2004 in Darfur. He was transferred to the ICC’s custody on 9 June 2020, after surrendering himself voluntarily in the Central African Republic. On 2 June, the Appeals Chamber dismissed five grounds of appeal and confirmed the decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber, which found no changed circumstances that would warrant his release from detention. The Pre-Trial Chamber is expected to deliver its written decision on Abd-Al-Rahman’s case within 60 days of the conclusion of the confirmation of charges hearing.

Council members are likely to be interested in hearing further details about Bensouda’s seven-day visit to Sudan which began on 29 May. Bensouda reportedly met with Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and other government officials and travelled to Darfur to meet affected communities. The Office of the Prosecutor, led by Bensouda, last visited Sudan between 17 and 20 October 2020 after more than a decade. During her recent visit, Bensouda emphasised the need to address the outstanding ICC arrest warrants, including against Al Bashir. She called for the expeditious handover of Haroun as his case is related to that of Abd-Al-Rahman. She further stressed the need for continuous cooperation between the transitional government and the ICC to achieve justice in Darfur. Bensouda last briefed the Council on 10 December 2020 (S/2020/1192), where she noted that “developments in the Sudan give renewed hope for justice and accountability in Darfur”.