ICC tasks UN Security Council on Darfur war crimes

New York, US (PANA) – The Chief Prosecutor of the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC), Ms. Fatou Bensouda, has urged the UN Security Council to take firm action to bring those indicted for war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region to justice.

Bensouda, who spoke at the UN Security Council on Thursday, noted that, "it is an
understatement to say the victims of Darfur conflict have lost all hope."

Ms. Bensouda reiterated her "frustration and despair" at the Council's "inaction and paralysis" over the issue, urging it take more decisive action.

PANA recalled that, in its resolution 1593 (2005), the Council had asked the Court to investigate war crimes in Darfur, and in 2009, ICC judges issued arrest warrants against Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir and other top officials for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Darfur.

Therefore, the ICC prosecutor stated: "The time has come for this Council and States Parties to seriously devise strategies for arresting those alleged to be responsible for these crimes."

She said: "This is the only way to stop the seemingly endless suffering of the Darfur victims", saying that, "it is a serious indictment on this Council and on States Parties” that Al-Bashir and others have been able to show "blatant disregard" for the Council’s resolutions and travel to
various countries without fear of arrest.

She also said that, "the situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate and the plight of Darfur victims continues to go from bad to worse", noting that this year alone, 460,000 people have been newly displaced, with the number of people killed, abducted and displaced growing each year.

"This Council's silence even when notified of clear failures and/or violations by UN Member States of their obligations to comply with this Council's resolutions only serves to add insult to the plight of Darfur's victims," Ms. Bensouda stressed.

Giving an overview of alleged crimes which continue to be committed and calling for full investigations, the prosecutor cited allegations of Sudan's Defence Ministry attacks targeting civilians as well as attacks by rebel movements.

Others, she added include criminal acts against displaced persons and abductions of, and attacks on humanitarian aid workers and peacekeepers.

She also noted aerial bombardments and "the pervasive and corrosive effect of organised sexual and gender-based violence" on women and girls, which remains seriously under reported.

Ms. Bensouda said Resolution 1593 represented hope for Darfur's victims, saying "I hope that there would be an end for their suffering, hope for accountability for crimes and that justice would not only be done but would also be seen to be done and above all, hope that lasting
peace and security would return to Darfur."

She further noted: "That hope was strengthened even further when this Council mandated my Office to report on progress every six months to enable the Council to remain actively seized of their plight".

"Sadly, with each report provided by my Office to the Council, the hopes of the victims of Darfur have faded. With this 18th report, it would be an understatement to say that all hope is lost," the prosecutor lamented.

She disclosed that the 10-year conflict has cost UN and humanitarian aid organisations more than US$ 10.5 billion and led to the deaths of 47 aid workers, with many more injured and abducted, and with attacks on peacekeepers appearing to become the norm, with a record number of 57 killings.

"In spite of the frustrations, challenges and obstacles, my Office's determination to carry out the mandate given to it by Resolution 1593 has not and will not waver," Ms. Bensouda stressed.

But, she also added, "Without stronger action by this Council and States Parties, the situation in the Sudan is unlikely to improve."
-0- PANA AA/VAO 12Dec2013

12 december 2013 15:17:59

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