29/6/2005
Press Release
SC/8429


Security Council

5216th Meeting (AM)


INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT PROSECUTOR TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL


INVESTIGATION INTO DARFUR CRIMES INITIATED 1 JUNE


Luis Moreno Ocampo Says Extensive Preliminary Inquiry

Revealed Grave Crimes, Absence of Criminal Proceedings on Certain Cases


International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo told the Security Council this morning that he had determined that there were cases that would be admissible in relation to the situation in Darfur, Sudan, and on 1 June initiated an investigation into the crimes committed there.


Briefing the Council for the first time since it referred the Darfur situation to the ICC -- by its adoption of resolution 1593 of 31 March 2005 -- he said that the start of investigations marked an opportunity for all parties to take all possible steps to prevent the continuation of such offences.† The Prosecutorís Office would identify those bearing the greatest responsibility for the crimes and assess the admissibility of the selected cases.†


The decision did not represent a determination of the Sudanese legal system, he added, but was essentially the result of the absence of criminal proceedings related to the cases on which he would focus.† Once specific cases were selected, the Prosecutorís Office would assess again whether or not they had been the subject of genuine national investigations or prosecutions.


He said his analysis followed the collection of more than 3,000 documents from a variety of sources.† There was significant credible information disclosing the commission of grave crimes within the Courtís jurisdiction having taken place in Darfur, including the killing of thousands of civilians and the widespread destruction and looting of villages leading to the displacement of approximately 1.9 million civilians.† The conditions of life resulting from those crimes had led to the deaths of tens of thousands from disease and starvation, particularly children, the sick and the elderly.† Information also highlighted a pervasive pattern of rape and sexual violence, as well as the persistent targeting and intimidation of humanitarian personnel.


Having studied Sudanese institutions, laws and procedures, the Prosecutorís Office had sought information on any national proceedings that might have been undertaken in relation to crimes in Darfur, he said.† It had also analyzed the multiple ad hoc mechanisms created by the Sudanese authorities in the context of the conflict, including the Committees against Rape, the Special Courts, as well as the Specialized Courts that had replaced them, the National Commission of Inquiry and other ad hoc judicial committees and non-judicial mechanisms.† In the coming weeks, the Prosecutorís Office would request the cooperation of the Government of Sudan and all other parties to the conflict, as well as the assistance of other States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.


Additional efforts would be required to bring other offenders to justice and to promote the rule of law and reconciliation, he said, a matter of particular significance in the context of Darfur, which had its own tribal and traditional systems for the promotion of dispute resolution.† The Prosecutorís Office would cooperate with and support such efforts, the combination of which would mark a comprehensive response to the need for justice.


The meeting began at 10:15 a.m. and ended at 10:30 a.m.


Briefing Summary


LUIS MORENO OCAMPO, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, said that immediately after the Councilís adoption of resolution 1593 (2005), the Darfur team was established with a staff of three divisions and initiated an extensive process of information gathering and analysis.† On 5 April, his office collected more than 2,500 items, including documentation, video footage and interview transcripts, which had been gathered by the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur.† That same day, he collected a sealed envelope containing the list of 51 individuals identified by the Commission as potentially bearing responsibility for the crimes.† His office would conduct its own independent investigation, in order to determine those persons who must be prosecuted.† The list was an advice, and would remain sealed.


He said that, prior to the commencement of a formal investigation, the Rome Statute required the Prosecutor to determine whether there was a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation.† That determination was made following consideration of the three factors set out in the Statute, namely whether:† the information available provided a reasonable basis to believe that a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court had been or was being committed; the case was or would be admissible under article 17; and taking into account the gravity of the crime and the interests of victims, there were nonetheless substantial reasons to believe that an investigation would not serve the interests of justice.†


In addition to the Commission material, he said his office had collected more than 3,000 documents from a variety of other sources.† It had been in contact with more than 50 individuals with specific expertise on the Darfur situation.† There was a significant amount of credible information disclosing grave crimes within the Courtís jurisdiction having taken place in Darfur.† Those crimes included the killing of thousands of civilians, the widespread destruction and looting of villages leading to the displacement of approximately 1.9 million civilians.† The conditions of life resulting from those crimes had led to the deaths of tens of thousands from disease and starvation, particularly affecting vulnerable groups, such as children, the sick and the elderly.† Information also highlighted a pervasive pattern of rape and sexual violence.†


Along with those crimes, he said his office had received information showing the persistent targeting and intimidation of humanitarian personnel.† In light of the complementarity regime and article 53(1)(b) of the Statute, he was required to consider whether there could be cases that would be admissible within the Darfur situation.† His office had studied Sudanese institutions, laws and procedures.† It had sought information on any national proceedings that might have been undertaken in relation to crimes in Darfur.† It had also analyzed the multiple ad hoc mechanisms that were created by the Sudanese authorities in 2004 in the context of the conflict in Darfur, including the Committees against Rape, the Special Courts and the Specialized Courts that replaced them, the National Commission of Inquiry and other ad hoc judicial committees and non-judicial mechanisms.


Following that analysis, he said he had determined that ďthere are cases that would be admissible in relation to the Darfur situationĒ.† That decision did not represent a determination of the Sudanese legal system, as such, but was essentially the result of the absence of criminal proceedings related to the cases on which he would focus.† The admissibility assessment was ongoing.† Once specific cases were selected, his office would assess again whether or not those cases were being, or had been, the subject of genuine national investigations or prosecutions.† His office had also examined issues relating to the interests of justice.† Taking into account all of those factors, on 1 June he decided to initiate an investigation in relation to the crimes committed in Darfur.


After arriving at that decision, the Government of Sudan provided his office with information relating to the establishment of a new specialized tribunal to deal with some individuals considered to have been responsible for crimes committed in Darfur.† As part of the ongoing admissibility assessment, his office would follow the work of the tribunal.† The full support of the international community would be essential to carry out his investigation.† Paragraph 2 of resolution 1593 (2005) required the Sudanese Government and all other parties to the conflict in Darfur to cooperate fully with, and provide necessary assistance to, the Court and the Prosecutor.† That paragraph also urged all States to cooperate fully with the Prosecutor and the Court.


He said that specific requests for assistance had not been issued to the Government of Sudan or other parties to the conflict during the preliminary analysis phase.† Since the referral, however, he had held two exploratory meetings (in April and May) in the Netherlands with Sudanese Government officials.† Members of his office had also held exploratory meetings with other parties to the conflict, in order to establish channels for communication and future cooperation.†


He recalled that paragraph 3 of resolution 1593 (2005) invited the Court and the African Union to discuss practical arrangements for facilitating the work of the Prosecutor and the Court, including the possibility of conducting proceedings in the region.† Following the referral of the situation, an ICC delegation had gone to Addis Ababa to finalize the negotiations on a relationship agreement with the African Union, which had started in 2003, and to meet with officials of the regional body.† The discussions had ended successfully in an agreed text that the Court hoped would be signed soon.


The Prosecutorís Office was in the process of concluding necessary agreements and arrangements with various other organizations, he said.† The United Nations Relationship Agreement, concluded in October 2004, had provided an existing framework for cooperation with the Court.† In addition, the Prosecutorís Office had developed contacts with other organizations, such as the Arab League, which were playing a role in seeking an end to the conflict in Darfur.† Preparations for investigations relating to Darfur were advancing rapidly and recruitment of additional personnel was well under way.† The selection process would conclude in July.


He said that the protection of victims and witnesses was a major challenge in any conflict situation and was a core responsibility shared by the Prosecutorís Office and the Registry.† The information currently available highlighted the significant security risks facing civilians, as well as local and international personnel in Darfur.† Those issues would present persistent challenges for any genuine investigations, international or national.† Communication of the ICCís activities would be vital to ensuring understanding of, and participation in, the process.† All possible steps would be taken to bring the proceedings closer to those affected by the crimes, which might include the establishment of ICC presences and the conduct of proceedings at places within the region.


In the coming weeks, the Prosecutorís Office would request the cooperation of the Government of Sudan and all other parties to the conflict, he said.† It would also request the assistance of other States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.† The language of resolution 1593 (2005) must be converted into reality as soon as possible and the continued reporting and engagement of the Security Council would be vital.† The Prosecutorís Office was also vigilant concerning the ongoing commission of serious crimes in Darfur, and the start of investigations marked an opportunity for all parties to take all possible steps to prevent the continuation of such offences.


The Prosecutorís Office would identify those individuals bearing the greatest responsibility for the crimes and assess the admissibility of the selected cases, he said.† The office would work expeditiously to those ends, conscious of the high evidential threshold for criminal responsibility imposed by the Rome Statute.† Additional efforts would be required to bring other offenders to justice and to promote the rule of law and reconciliation, a matter of particular significance in the context of Darfur, which had tribal and traditional systems for the promotion of dispute resolution.† The Prosecutorís Office would cooperate with and support such efforts, the combination of which would mark a comprehensive response to the need for justice.


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