Victims of Darfur Crimes Cannot Wait until ‘Fragmentation and Indecision’ Replaced by Decisive Security Council Action, Criminal Court Prosecutor Tells Members
Victims of Darfur Crimes Cannot Wait until ‘Fragmentation and Indecision’ Replaced by Decisive Security Council Action, Criminal Court Prosecutor Tells Members
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6887th Meeting (AM)
Victims of Darfur Crimes Cannot Wait until ‘Fragmentation and Indecision’ Replaced
by Decisive Security Council Action, Criminal Court prosecutor Tells Members
State, Non-State Parties to Rome Statute Debate Way Forward;
Sudan Says International Court Exploited by Political Interests
Ongoing reported violence in Darfur could constitute new charges of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court told Security Council members today, urging swift action to save lives and repair a war-weary region by bringing the perpetrators to justice.
“The question that remains to be answered is how many more civilians must be killed, injured and displaced for this Council to be spurred into doing its part,” Fatou Bensouda asked. “Victims of Darfur crimes can hardly wait for the day that fragmentation and indecision will be replaced by decisive, concrete and tangible actions they expect from this Council.”
Introducing the Prosecutor’s report on the situation in Darfur, she expressed serious concerns, saying that her office would consider whether further investigations and additional arrest warrants were needed to address recent violations, including reports of thwarting humanitarian aid deliveries, attacks on African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) peacekeepers and bombardments and attacks on civilian populations.
“The words of the Government of Sudan representatives, promising further peace initiatives, are undermined by actions on the ground that show an ongoing commitment to crimes against civilians as a solution to the Government’s problems in Darfur,” she said, noting the Government’s failure to implement the Court’s five arrest warrants, which seemed to favour a military solution in Darfur, which, over the last decade, had had tragic results and attacks on civilian populations.
Sudan’s representative refuted the latest report and stressed that his country did not recognize the Rome Statute, which had created the International Criminal Court in 2002. The Court’s report, he said, contained unsubstantiated allegations, and contradicted UNAMID reports. The report’s allegations of gender violence, for instance, did not provide sources, and it mistook tribal clashes for fighting between militias. Also, reported attacks on peacekeepers had in fact been committed by bandits now being pursued by Sudanese authorities.
He said the Court had become a tool for “blackmail” and for violating the sovereignty of small States and was being exploited by certain political interests, shown last month when a Security Council member asked the Palestinian Authority not to use the Court to pursue justice, in exchange for its positive vote to upgrade Palestine’s status. Given those elements, what kind of justice could be expected from the Court?, he asked.
When the floor opened for comments by Council members, all speakers condemned the violence in Darfur and supported a peaceful solution, with some making suggestions on how to do that. Pakistan’s representative said peace could only be realized through a comprehensive, multi-track strategy that aimed to add momentum to the political process, promote dialogue, justice and reconciliation, establish a conducive security situation and address the human rights and humanitarian aspects of the conflict.
Several speakers raised concerns about stopping the ongoing violence and the role to be played by the International Criminal Court. India’s representative, a non-State party to the Rome Statute, disagreed with the Court’s suggestion that aimed to create an obligation for compliance by non-State parties. Instead, he suggested targeted sanctions on groups that refused to join the political process.
The United States’ representative, also a non-State party to the Statute, said he was dismayed that the Government of Sudan was not cooperating with the Court despite its obligation under Council resolution 1593 (2005) to do so.
Welcoming the willingness of States to consider creative approaches and new tools to assist the Court, he also supported further discussions on resolutions concerning Council referrals to the Court. Continued impunity for crimes committed in Darfur fomented instability and sent a dangerous message that there were no consequences to attacking civilians. He welcomed the willingness of States to consider creative approaches and new tools to assist the Court.
Also speaking were the representatives of the United Kingdom, Togo, South Africa, France, Portugal, Colombia, China, Germany, Azerbaijan, Russian Federation, Guatemala and Morocco.
The meeting began at 10:17 a.m. and ended at 12:12 p.m.
FATOU BENSOUDA, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, said that ongoing violence in Darfur could constitute war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. Her office was seriously concerned and would consider whether further investigations and additional arrest warrants were needed to address the violations, including reports of thwarting humanitarian aid deliveries, attacks on African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) peacekeepers and bombardments and attacks on civilians.
“The words of the Government of Sudan representatives, promising further peace initiatives, are undermined by actions on the ground that show an ongoing commitment to crimes against civilians as a solution to the Government’s problems in Darfur,” she said, introducing the latest report on the situation in Darfur.
Emphasizing that the Council should be even more concerned, given that crimes continued to be committed, including by those already indicted by the Court, she reminded members that in referring the situation in Darfur, the Council had reaffirmed the vital importance of promoting justice and the rule of law.
“The question that remains to be answered is how many more civilians must be killed, injured and displaced for this Council to be spurred into doing its part,” she said. “There are no words to properly express the frustration of Darfur’s victims, which we share, about the lack of any meaningful progress towards arresting those indicted by the Courts.”
She pointed out that the failure of the Government of Sudan to implement the Court’s five arrest warrants seemed to be symbolic of its ongoing commitment to a military solution in Darfur over the last decade, with tragic results and attacks on civilian populations.
“Victims of Darfur crimes can hardly wait for the day that fragmentation and indecision will be replaced by decisive, concrete and tangible actions they expect from this Council,” she said, outlining the Court’s efforts and asking if the victims’ great sacrifices were in vain.
By adopting resolution 2063 (2012), this Council had expressed concern about ongoing impunity and the lack of progress on national proceedings, she said. It should be clear to the Council that the Government of Sudan was neither prepared to hand over the suspects nor to prosecute them for their crimes.
Despite challenges, including non-cooperation by the Government of Sudan, her office had investigated and submitted evidence to the judges, who concluded that the Sudanese Government had committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur. The judges had communicated six times with the Security Council without any response, including today’s communication containing a Pre-Trial Chamber decision on the failure of Chad to comply with cooperation requests regarding the arrest and surrender of President Omar al-Bashir.
Her office was working with the African Union and other regional organizations and had conducted investigations, with good progress made towards the start of the trail for two of the three individuals accused of war crimes, which was expected to begin next year. She hoped to present to the judges substantial evidence for the other four cases, following the arrest and surrender of the four individuals sought by the Court.
“This is an essential step towards delivering justice for Darfur’s victims,” she said. “It will also shed light on the obstacles facing other international processes, such as those endeavouring to bring relief to the victims through delivery of humanitarian aid or the conduct of a peace process that aims to be principled and substantive. The justice process is an essential component of any strategy aimed at truly stopping ongoing crimes, by publicly exposing to the highest independent judicial standards the reasons why and how these crimes have been committed, who had been responsible for them, and how they must be stopped.”
DAFFA-ALLA ELHAG ALI OSMAN ( Sudan) said his participation in the meeting was intended to correct misinformation and in no way signal recognition of the legitimacy of the International Criminal Court in his country, because Sudan was not party to the Rome Statute, similar to the situation of eight members of the Security Council. He had expected the new Prosecutor to change the Court’s approach and not use unsubstantiated information not confirmed by the facts on the ground. The fact was that after the signing of the Doha agreement, the situation had stabilized in Darfur. There were more than 10 individuals from tribes of Darfur who were currently Ministers in the Government in Khartoum. Five States were headed by persons from the various tribes in Darfur. Therefore, he questioned the depiction in the report of a deteriorating situation.
One of the most glaring contradictions in the report, he said, referred to attacks on displaced persons camps that differed from information contained in the report of UNAMID of 16 July, which had been put together from people on the ground and reaffirmed the stable security situation. Other reports reaffirmed that stability, with tribal clashes being the exception. The return of 200,000 refugees had been confirmed; that would not have occurred if atrocities were being committed there.
The International Criminal Court relied on anonymous sources, whereas the reports of the United Nations missions in Sudan were credible, he maintained, pointing to instances in the Court’s report that mistook tribal clashes for fighting between militias. His Government was trying to prevent such clashes through development and the rerouting of nomads. Allegations of gender violence in the Court’s report also did not provide sources, contradicting the most basic principles of justice. Attacks on UNAMID had been carried out by bandits that were being sought for prosecution by his Government.
On the relationship between the Court and the Security Council, he objected to the fact that the Court was a judicial mechanism that relied on the Rome Statute, while the Council was a political entity that relied on the United Nations Charter. The connection between those two entities should have been avoided, as judicial entities must be independent from political ones. The referral by the Council, therefore, was politicized. In addition, the conflict in Darfur was an internal matter that did not threaten global peace and security.
Sudan was not concerned with the Court’s findings since it objected, like many on the Council, to its impingement on national sovereignty. His country had created branch judicial institutions in Darfur to adjudicate any crimes that had been committed during the conflict. In addition, the Doha Document included measures for justice and reconciliation, with the participation of civil society. His Government continued to work to extend the inclusiveness of the Doha agreement, and he called on the Council to urge those movements that had not yet joined to work together towards peace and development.
He maintained that the International Criminal Court had become a tool exploited by certain political interests, shown again as a member of the Security Council last month had asked the Palestinian Authority not to use the Court to pursue justice, in exchange for its positive vote to upgrade Palestine’s status. The Court was being used for blackmail and for violating the sovereignty of smaller States, so what kind of justice could be expected from it?, he asked.
KHALIDA RACHID KHAN ( Pakistan) said Darfur was among the most complicated and intractable issues on the Council’s agenda. His Government supported a peaceful resolution of that situation through an inclusive political process in full respect of the country’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity. Peace in Darfur could only be realized through a comprehensive, multi-track strategy that aimed to add momentum to the political process; promote dialogue, justice and reconciliation; establish a conducive security situation; and address the human rights and humanitarian aspects of the conflict.
Reiterating the support of the United Nations towards peace in Darfur, he said the role of the African Union, League of Arab States and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also should be taken into account. He voiced concern at all human rights and humanitarian law violations in the Darfur region, underlining that Sudan had the primary duty to investigate abuses and bring perpetrators to justice. Attacks against civilians and humanitarian workers by Darfurian armed rebels should be strongly condemned. Sanctions should be imposed on all those obstructing the Darfur peace process, and the Council should consolidate efforts towards early achievement of durable peace in Sudan.
PHILIP PARHAM ( United Kingdom) regretted that the last six months had not seen much progress in the implementation of the Doha Document, with the Government not delivering required funds to the regional institutions and little evidence that the local courts were filing requisite cases. He urged all movements to join the peace process and looked for greater involvement of civil society in that regard. Meanwhile, international humanitarian and human rights law continued to be violated, with civilians dying from ground and air attacks. None of the perpetrators of attacks on UNAMID had been brought to justice, and it was unacceptable that UNAMID and humanitarian agencies did not have full access to those in need.
Given those troubling issues, he said, the International Criminal Court’s involvement was crucial. Claims that the Council could not legitimately refer cases to it were specious; the Government was bound to comply with Council solutions. He called on all States, whether parties to the Rome Statute or not, to assist the Court achieve justice for the victims of this and other conflicts.
KODJO MENAN (Togo), noting that his country was not a party to the Rome Statute, said that there had been no real progress in implementing the Doha Document or Council resolutions referring the issue to the Court. He welcomed the holding of the status conferences on related cases, hoping that it would help the parties come to an agreement for the purpose of justice. Unfortunately, there had been no progress nationally in prosecution. In affecting the necessary arrests, he called for analysis of the root causes of non-cooperation, followed up by actions by the Sudanese authorities. He seconded calls for an end to human rights violations and encouraged close monitoring of attacks on populations, gender violence, violence against community leaders, conscription of children and other crimes. He expressed deep concern over abductions and deaths of peacekeepers and humanitarian workers, noting that his country had lost police officers in Darfur, and he welcomed investigations to hold accountable those responsible. The political will of authorities in Sudan to hold all perpetrators accountable was key, along with the will of all parties to achieve genuine reconciliation.
DIRE TLADI ( South Africa) said that his country was a party to the Rome Statute and, therefore, believed that the most serious crimes must not go unpunished. Those who had committed such crimes in Darfur must be held accountable whether through national mechanisms or the International Criminal Court, according to the principle of complementarity. It was also critical that the conflict end and that the Council sustain its attention to it, while also supporting implementation of the Doha Document and the activities of the African Union High-level Panel. Those committing atrocities must be held accountable, and the Council must use all available tools to achieve the end of the conflict. He was deeply concerned at the aftermath of Council referrals to the Court. In order to make those referrals meaningful, the Council must insist on full cooperation with the Court by all Council members, whether they were State parties to the Rome Statute or not, and referrals must not been seen as an end in themselves.
MARTIN BRIENS ( France) said that the Court’s work on Darfur had certainly had a positive impact in preventing some violence. However, those who had been accused of the worst crimes remained at liberty and were still in key positions in Sudan and able to command more violations. In addition, no legal proceedings had been conducted nationally and Sudan had not taken the slightest measure to try the four accused; they were enjoying total immunity. All those facts flouted Council resolutions on Sudan. The implementation of the peace process, in addition, was riddled with failings in reconstruction, return of populations and funding of institutions. The replication of the crimes committed in Darfur in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States was partly a result of impunity. He called for cooperation from all States in the arrest of those accused of serious crimes by the Court as a result of Council resolution 1593 (2005), compliance with which was mandatory.
JOÃO MARIA CABRAL ( Portugal) said many of the Council’s concerns expressed in July persisted today: attacks on civilians and peacekeepers; obstacles to humanitarian organizations; and a lack of cooperation by the Sudanese Government with the Court. Arrest warrants issued by the Court still lacked execution. Most troubling were the aerial bombardments against civilians, as well as ground attacks by both the Government and rebel forces in populated areas and internally displaced persons camps, which could constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity.
He also reiterated concern about sexual violence in Darfur, and further, the reported persecution and intimidation of victims and those trying to defend them. He was gravely troubled by the attacks against civil society and human rights defenders, as well as on humanitarian workers and United Nations personnel. He reiterated concern at obstacles raised by the Sudanese authorities on UNAMID’s ability to fully implement its mandate by deliberately delaying visas. He urged the Prosecutor to monitor such events. As for the Court, he said cooperation by all Member States was essential for it to fulfil its role, voicing concern at Sudan’s lack of cooperation on the outstanding arrest warrants.
VINAY KUMAR ( India) said an inclusive political process would go a long way towards resolving the conflict. The overall humanitarian situation had improved since the signing of the Doha Document. What was needed now was the international community’s support, and he called for targeted sanctions on groups that refused to join the political process. It was important that the International Criminal Court’s proceedings were consistent with its obligations. India was not a signatory to the Rome Statute for reasons known. It strongly condemned violence, but it was the State’s responsibility to protect its civilians and bring perpetrators to justice. India could not support the Court’s suggestions that aimed to create a cooperation obligation for States not party to the Statute.
FERNANDO ALZATE (Colombia) said he regretted that the criminal proceedings initiated by the Prosecutor’s Office had not been implemented and that, according to the Prosecutor’s report, there were no credible proceedings going on in Sudan, which indicated no change since her previous report. The bulk of the report did not cover the cases, but focused on alleged crimes that might lead to the opening of new criminal cases involving extremely worrying reports of air strikes, ground attacks on civilians and the recruitment of minors and other violations. The Council and Court must address those crimes, but both bodies must not lose sight of the common goal of implementing arrest warrants. He was sad to see that this year, after the Court’s tenth anniversary, international criminal justice had not been delivered in Darfur. The Council had decided that all parties in Darfur should cooperate with the Court, and that should include with arrest warrants.
SUN XIAOBO ( China) said the complex problems in Darfur required a range of approaches to address the myriad of issues, from political and economic to security and justice. The pursuit of justice could only be secured when durable stability was achieved through political means. The top priority was for all parties to implement the Doha Document, and all actions by the international community and the Council should serve the achievement of that goal. In considering the situation in Darfur, he hoped the Council would value and heed the views of regional organizations, including the African Union and the League of Arab States.
PETER WITTIG ( Germany) said the alarming situation was exacerbated by the Sudanese Government’s failure to implement the Court’s arrest warrants, with indicted individuals now sitting in prominent political positions or at large. Sudan showed no willingness to comply, defying the Council’s authority. Determination must not diminish, he said, calling on all Rome Statute parties to fulfil their obligations. He supported recent proposals for the Council’s more active involvement in non-compliance cases, adding that non-cooperation must be met by increased vigilance by the Council. Condemning attacks on civilians, aid workers and peacekeepers, he deplored recent reports of aerial bombardments and of sexual violence, calling for a thorough investigation on the attacks in Hashaba and other incidents, because those responsible should be brought to justice.
JEFFREY DELAURENTIS ( United States) said mounting violence was a grave concern, including targeted civilian attacks and denying UNAMID access to affected areas. Since UNAMID’s initial deployment in 2007, 43 peacekeepers had been killed, in attacks that could be prosecuted as war crimes. The Council should condemn any and all attacks on mission personnel. Reversing the cycle of violence required accountability for the perpetrators, he said, expressing dismay that the Sudanese Government was not cooperating with the Court, despite its obligation to do so fully. Continued impunity for crimes committed in Darfur fomented instability and sent a dangerous message that there were no consequences to attacking civilians. Welcoming the willingness of States to consider creative approaches and new tools to assist the Court, he also embraced further discussions on resolutions concerning Council referrals.
AGSHIN MEHDIYEV (Azerbaijan), noting that his country was not a party to the Rome Statute, stressed the importance for the Court’s Prosecutor to act strictly within the parameters of resolution 1593 (2005). He also stressed the importance of advancing implementation of the Doha Document to end the fighting in Darfur, which required the cooperation of all armed groups, many of which, he said, were continuing to violate human rights and must be brought to justice.
SERGEY KAREV ( Russian Federation) said that the Court was required to objectively assess the actions of all parties in a conflict. In Darfur, not only Sudanese officials, but leaders of militias must be held accountable. In that context, he said he was pleased with the work of the Court there. Thoughts, however, must be given to the Court’s next steps to prevent impunity. State cooperation was critical as was adherence to other international norms, such as immunity of high officials. He looked forward to progress in Darfur leading to post-conflict recovery.
GERT ROSENTHAL ( Guatemala) affirmed the obligation of States to assist the Court in its efforts. He welcomed actions taken by the Court to combat impunity, but remained concerned over ongoing attacks against civilians in Darfur, which must be investigated and ended. Restrictions on humanitarian workers were also unacceptable. It was obvious that there were still “vast failings” by Sudan in cooperation with the Court and in investigating cases in which the judicial body had competence. Cooperation would ensure accountability. As a party to the Rome Statute, his country could not ignore the suffering of the Darfur population, as well as evidence of genocide and other crimes against humanity. The charges brought by the Prosecutor were in accord with international judicial standards, including judicial independence. The Council and the Court must uphold their full respective, complementary mandates in order to ensure accountability and the non-politicization of justice.
MOHAMMED LOULICHKI ( Morocco) said his country had always called for a political settlement to alleviate suffering in Darfur and welcomed the implementation of the Doha Document. There were many outstanding challenges, however, including the rejection of the process by some rebel groups, which allowed conflict to continue. He hoped additional armed groups would join the peace process and he looked forward to a comprehensive dialogue for that purpose, as well as to the upcoming donor conference. On the indictment against President Omar al-Bashir, he deferred to the position of the League of Arab States and maintained that the restoration of stability in Darfur could not be set apart from restoration of peaceful relations between all countries in the region.
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