​​

Statement : |

Statement to the United Nations Security Council on the Situation in Darfur, pursuant to UNSCR 1593 (2005)

Due to COVID-19 lockdown at the UN headquarters, ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, presents her Office’s 31st report on the Situation in Darfur, Sudan remotely through VTC ©ICC-CPI<br>
Due to COVID-19 lockdown at the UN headquarters, ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, presents her Office’s 31st report on the Situation in Darfur, Sudan remotely through VTC ©ICC-CPI

Madame President, Your Excellencies,

It is once again a pleasure for me to interact with the Council, albeit virtually, as I present my Office's thirty-first report on the Darfur situation, pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1593.

At the outset, I wish to congratulate France for presiding over the Presidency of this Council, and to express my sincere appreciation for facilitating today's briefing in the midst of a rather hectic monthly work-plan for June for this august body. I am grateful for the flexibility and importance attached to this briefing.

As the world continues to navigate the uncertain and unprecedented era of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the wheels of justice have continued to turn at the International Criminal Court ("ICC" or the "Court") and in my Office in particular. We have made every effort to adapt to the current reality of a virtual world, and the Office has maintained a notable degree of business continuity despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, including the closure of the ICC premises since March.

Madame President, Your Excellencies,

As many of you will be aware, yesterday, ICC suspect, Ali Kushayb, was transferred to the custody of the Court, following his surrender. This is a pivotal development in the Darfur situation, especially for those victims who have waited so long for justice.

I hope that the suspect's transfer to the Court also sends a clear and unequivocal message that no matter how long it takes or the obstacles placed in our path, my Office will not stop until the alleged perpetrators of Rome Statute crimes are brought to justice.

Indeed, while many had either abandoned hope in the situation or actively sought to stifle progress, we maintained our focus and perspective, never giving up on our investigations despite cooperation challenges, and building the necessary networks and partnerships.

Our commitment to the situation and the victims in the Darfur situation remains unwavering, as is our conviction in the importance of fighting impunity for atrocity crimes. There should be no escape from justice for perpetrators of the world's most serious crimes under international law.  

We have continued to make important progress in the collection of evidence to strengthen our cases, in the Darfur situation, in line with our strategic plans, and will continue to honour our obligations under the Statute.

I would be remiss if I didn't seize this occasion to express once again my sincere appreciation for the impressive cooperation of all those States, organisations and individuals who contributed to this pivotal development, in particular, the Governments of the Central African Republic, the Republic of Chad, the French Republic and The Netherlands, as well as the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic.

Apart from the success of the operation, this development also demonstrates in clear terms support for the ICC and its crucial mandate, and indeed, how effective the Rome Statute system of international criminal justice can be through timely and devoted collaborative action. We have always welcomed such efforts and look forward to continued collaboration in the service of the Rome Statute.

I can't be faulted to also be proud of my dedicated team, along with colleagues from the Registry of the Court, whose tireless efforts in the exercise of our respective independent mandates, contributed to yesterday's development and successful transfer to the ICC.

That outcome was achieved notwithstanding the complexities of the operation, aggravated by the need to operate in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. And here, I salute my colleagues for the hours of preparation and travel time dedicated to this operation  in these exceptional circumstances.

This development highlights yet another obvious need. All ICC suspects against whom arrest warrants have been issued must face justice. I take this opportunity to call on Mr Abdallah Banda and all other ICC suspects who are at large, to follow Mr Kushayb's lead and surrender to the ICC and answer the charges against them through a fair, objective and independent judicial process.

Madame President, Your Excellencies,

We remain optimistic that the ongoing transitional process in the Republic of Sudan augurs well for prospects to finally achieve justice for Darfur victims. In particular, we are encouraged by the on-going peace talks in Juba between the Government of Sudan and rebel groups, and we urge all parties to stay the course in their quest for durable peace in Sudan.

We have noted with keen interest, media reports indicating that an agreement was reached with rebel groups, that justice in Darfur requires the "appearance of those against whom arrest warrants were issued by the ICC."

To date, the Court has yet to receive official communication from the Government of Sudan relating to any agreements reached in respect of the Court's pending arrest warrants. At this point in time, my Office has not been informed by the competent authorities of Sudan what actions they intend to take in relation to the ICC suspects. As such, I take this opportunity to appeal to this Council and through you, to the authorities of the Government of Sudan, to intensify dialogue with my Office to ensure accountability for the heinous crimes that have taken place in Darfur.

I am pleased to note that I had the honour of placing a courtesy call to His Excellency, the Prime Minister of Sudan, Mr Abdalla Hamdok, concerning yesterday's transfer of the ICC suspect to the custody of the Court. I was encouraged by that open and helpful conversation.

I remain hopeful that a new chapter of constructive ICC-Sudan engagement, rooted in mutual respect and a genuine commitment to bringing justice for the victims of heinous crimes committed in Darfur, may be on the horizon.

Dialogue between my Office and the Government of Sudan is imperative.

Governed by the requirements of the Rome Statute, all ICC Darfur suspects must be brought to justice through genuine proceedings either in a courtroom in Sudan or at the Court in The Hague.

To this end, pursuant to the principle of complementarity and my mandate as ICC Prosecutor, I reiterate that I welcome dialogue with the Government of Sudan, while reassuring victims of the atrocity crimes committed in Darfur of my steadfast commitment to ensuring that those responsible for atrocities in Darfur ultimately face justice. 

Madame President, Your Excellencies,

Even as Sudan continues its extraordinary transition, the situation on the ground remains volatile. The reported attempt to assassinate Prime Minister Hamdok in March underscores the fragility of the situation. At times like these, more than ever, the Sudanese people look to this Council and the international community for tangible support and encouragement to forge ahead with their efforts to find lasting peace, of which justice and accountability are essential components.

I reiterate my Office's commitment and readiness to engage with all sectors of the interim government to ensure genuine justice for the crimes committed in Darfur in accordance with the requirements of the Rome Statute.

My Office has continued efforts to reach out to the Sudanese government, in order to open lines of communication with all the relevant components of the government. These efforts have been impeded by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has restricted travel and demanded the attention of governments all over the world, including Sudan.

Given the current restrictions on international travel and personal interactions, my Office stands ready to facilitate virtual meetings with all stakeholders in Sudan at the earliest opportunity to raise greater awareness about my Office's work, the Court's jurisdiction, and what can be expected going forward.

We are not oblivious to the tremendous challenges that the Government of Sudan is currently facing, and we can only wish the Government success in this transition phase towards achieving greater human security and prosperity for the Sudanese people. Securing justice for past crimes in Darfur must remain a priority as part of this national reset and response.

Madame President, Your Excellencies,

The ICC arrest warrants for the four suspects in the Darfur situation remain in force.

As I note in my report to this Council, Mr Al Bashir is serving a two-year sentence in Sudan for a conviction relating to financial corruption. Sudan's Public Prosecutor has also reportedly announced additional charges relating to the 1989 coup. I am also aware of recent reports that Sudan's anti-corruption body recently confiscated assets valued at $4 billion from Mr Al-Bashir, his family members and associates.

Mr Ahmad Harun and Mr Abdel Raheem Hussein are both reportedly in the custody of the Government of Sudan, awaiting charges by the Public Prosecutor. I am concerned by recent reports that both of these ICC suspects are ill with the COVID-19 virus, and I trust that adequate measures are being taken by the authorities to attend to their health in detention.  

Mr Abdallah Banda continues to be at large. He remains an ICC fugitive, who should be arrested and surrendered to the Court.

Pursuant to this Council's Resolution 1593, and the subsequent orders of ICC judges, Sudan remains under an international legal duty to surrender all the suspects subject to an ICC arrest warrant to the Court without delay.

Madame President, Your Excellencies,

In relation to recent judicial activities, on 11­ May, my Office filed a public redacted version of its observations on the possibility of a trial in absentia in the specific circumstances of the case against Mr Banda. As set out in more detail in the filing, my Office argued that neither the Rome Statute nor the Rules of Procedure and Evidence permit a trial in absentia of an accused person, particularly in the circumstances of the case against Mr Banda. On 13 May, the Trial Chamber, by majority, granted leave to the Legal Representative for Victims to file observations on this issue.

My team continues to monitor alleged crimes in Darfur which may fall within the Court's jurisdiction. There have been allegations of attacks on the Krinding camp for internally displaced persons, as well as villages near El Geneina. These attacks reportedly resulted in significant casualties and caused the displacement of thousands of persons. There were also reports of continuing sexual and gender-based violence. Attacks such as these must stop and the protection of civilians must remain a priority.

I welcome reports from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) that throughout 2019, the number of returnees has exceeded the number of internally displaced persons in Darfur. However, I am concerned by reports of harassment of IOM staff, as well as the looting of humanitarian supplies from five local non-governmental organisations in Kabkabiya, North Darfur.

I remain deeply concerned about the protection of civilians, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on humanitarian assistance.


I welcome the Council's decision last week to adopt Resolution 2525, which extends UNAMID's mandate until the 31st of December. I also welcome the Council's adoption on the same day of Resolution 2524, which establishes a new political mission in Sudan, the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan. 

Madame President, Your Excellencies,

The progress my Office has made thus far in this situation would not have been possible without the principled cooperation and unwavering support of a number of States, including those who sit on this Council. Allow me to express my sincere gratitude for this support.

I must also express my heartfelt thanks to the inspirational individuals and organisations who continue to do everything in their power to pursue justice and accountability for crimes in Darfur.

Madame President, Your Excellencies,

Allow me to reiterate that my Office attaches great importance to enhancing its fledgling relationship with the Government of Sudan. We are alive to the complexity of Sudan's transition process and the competing priorities that Sudanese authorities must attend to. Even so, meeting the legitimate demands of the Sudanese people for justice and accountability must remain at the forefront.

It is 17 years since many of the crimes occurred in Darfur. In the last 13 years, my Office has not been able to access the territory of Sudan. Now is the time for this to change. Mr Kushayb's surrender to the Court further highlights the importance of this cooperation.

I call on all the members of this Council, States Parties, and the international community more broadly to support and encourage the Government of Sudan to fully and promptly cooperate with my Office.

It is my hope that when I next brief this Council, I will be in a position to report on key milestones in my cooperation with Sudanese authorities. I hope this Council does not only share my optimism, but will work hard to ensure that we achieve this aim.

Madame President, Your Excellencies,

I recall the salient words of His Excellency, Mr Omer Mohamed Ahmed Siddig, Permanent Representative of Sudan to the UN, in his response to my last report to the Council on 18 December 2019. Mr Siddig referred to a "new reality" for Sudan, which has accountability as "its cornerstone", and in which there is "no place for impunity."

This is the goal that my Office and the Government of Sudan, with the support of this Council, must work together to deliver for victims in Darfur. In this collective effort, there is no time to waste.

Justice for Darfur has already been too elusive for too long. It is past time for that unsatisfactory state of affairs to change. A window of opportunity has been opened. We must collectively seize it. Let us act together to finally bring justice to the victims in Darfur.

Madame President, Your Excellencies,

To conclude, on the 29th of May, I had the opportunity to brief the European Parliament's Subcommittee on Human Rights in relation to a number of situations before the Court, including Darfur. In the course of my exchanges with the subcommittee, I was encouraged, in particular by the strong support expressed for the mandate of the ICC and the independent exercise of its prosecutorial and judicial functions, as set out in the Rome Statute.

For victims of atrocity crimes and affected communities in many conflict situations around the world, the ICC represents a last beacon of hope for independent and impartial justice.

Yesterday's development with the transfer of Mr Kushayb to the Court is significant also in that context, and embodies the resilience, tenacity and reach of justice, as well as the crucial importance of the ICC in the global fight against impunity.

We are committed to continuing to honourably fulfil our duties under the Rome Statute, without fear or favour, in the pursuit of justice for the world's most heinous crimes.

We count on your support as we make progress in this necessary journey forward towards a more just world.

I thank you for the opportunity and for your time. | OTP


Thirty-first report of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to the United Nations Security Council pursuant to UNSCR 1593 (2005):
English ; French ; Arabic

Source : Office of the Prosecutor