|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6440th Meeting (PM)
Implementing International Criminal Court’s Decisions on Darfur Ultimately
Up to Security Council, Chief Prosecutor Says in Briefing
Moreno-Ocampo Reports Non-Cooperation, Lack of Action by Sudanese Government
Although the International Criminal Court had issued warrants and other decisions on serious crimes committed in Sudan’s Darfur region, it was now up to that country’s Government and, ultimately, the Security Council to ensure the implementation of those decisions, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the Court’s Chief Prosecutor, told Council members today.
“The legal work is done, but the crimes are ongoing,” Mr. Moreno-Ocampo told the 15-member body, recalling that it was the Council that had referred the Darfur situation to the International Criminal Court in 2005. Since then it had issued two statements calling for cooperation with the Court in bringing those responsible for serious crimes in Darfur to justice in order to fight impunity.
“The arrest warrants will not go away,” he emphasized, recalling also that the Court had issued warrants against a leader of the Janjaweed militia reporting to the then Minister of State for the Interior, who in turn reported to President Omer al-Bashir, who for that reason had been charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. In fact, Pre-Trial Chamber I had decided to issue a second arrest warrant for the Sudanese leader on three charges of genocide, including genocide by killing; genocide by causing serious bodily or mental harm through rape and fear against people in villages and camps for displaced persons; and genocide by deliberately inflicting on each target group conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction.
Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said the Court had also investigated the worst crimes committed by rebel forces against peacekeepers and a trial was forthcoming. A hearing concluded yesterday in The Hague had confirmed the charges against rebel commanders who had led the assault on African Union peacekeepers in Haskanita, he said, describing attacks against peacekeepers as some of the most serious crimes under the Court’s jurisdiction.
However, the Government of Sudan was neither cooperating with the Court nor conducting national proceedings on the crimes committed in Darfur, he said. The Sudanese authorities had consistently promised to do so since 2005, creating special courts and prosecutors while systematically protecting those committing the crimes. Logically, President al-Bashir did not want to arrest those cooperating with his orders to attack civilians and destroy their communities, he explained.
The Prosecutor stressed that the situation in Darfur was not just a humanitarian crisis, but a systematic attack against civilians, an ongoing genocide by rape and fear. “Rape and fear are silent weapons, below the radar of the peacekeeping forces,” he said, pointing out that sexual violence continued, generally committed by men in military uniform, according to the Secretary-General’s report of 14 July.
In relation to the Haskanita attack, he described the confirmation hearing as “unique”. The commanders had accepted that there was sufficient evidence to confirm the charges – which must be done by 17 February 2011 — and go to trial. The case alleges that two commanders led more than 1,000 fighters in killing 12 peacekeepers, injuring eight others, destroying their base and looting vehicles, fuel, money and other items, all of which had resulted in charges of war crimes.
Regarding national proceedings, he noted the report of the African Union High-Level Panel on Darfur, which cited, among the major obstacles to justice and reconciliation in Darfur, the “absence of political will; denial of what happened and is happening in Darfur, as well as obscuring the truth; war, fear and insecurity; poor policing and enforcement of law and order; impunity for the crimes committed in Darfur; unwillingness to use the law to attend to violations of human rights; failure to reform the judiciary; and the lack of a sufficient number of qualified personnel in the judiciary”.
He said the most recent “cover-up statement” promising justice had come on 27 September, when Nimr Mohamed, Special Prosecutor for Darfur, had visited North Darfur and announced his intention to begin investigations into the 2 September attack on Tabra, which had resulted in a reported 37 or more people killed and 50 others wounded. Two weeks later, in mid-October, Prosecutor Nimr had been replaced by Abdel Daim Zamrawi, Under-Secretary in the Ministry of Justice. No progress had been reported on the Tabra investigation or any other, he noted, stressing: “Until the orders to Government of Sudan forces to commit crimes in Darfur cease, there is no possibility of justice for Darfur.”
However, some States parties to the Rome Statute, which created the International Criminal Court, were fulfilling their legal obligations and adopting policies to sever any contact with the individuals sought by the Court, he noted. For example, President Bashir had been excluded from the last European Union-Africa Summit. Regional organizations, such as the League of Arab States and the African Union, were crucial to stopping the crimes, alleviating the humanitarian situation and providing stability in Sudan. A proper dialogue with them was crucial to achieving those goals, but the ultimate responsibility lay with the Sudanese Government and, ultimately, the Security Council.
The meeting began at 3:16 p.m. and ended at 3:29 p.m.
* *** *For information media • not an official record