Press Conference by Prosecutor of International Criminal Court

15 December 2011

Press Conference by Prosecutor of International Criminal Court

15 December 2011
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York


As he worked to prepare a transition plan for the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo told correspondents during a press briefing today that he had just called on the Security Council to devise a comprehensive strategy before his departure in June for implementing all outstanding arrest warrants related to the situation in Darfur.

Speaking after a public briefing to the Council that was immediately followed by a closed meeting with Council members, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo highlighted the importance of addressing the Darfur case during his handover to current Deputy Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who was named as his successor earlier this week during the Assembly of States parties to the Rome Statute.  Because the crimes were ongoing and the warrants against the sitting Head of State, as well as other Government ministers had not yet been implemented, Darfur comprised the most difficult case currently facing the Prosecutor’s Office.

He had, therefore, invited the Council to work towards a strategy that integrated political negotiations with justice efforts.  He had also updated it on his request for an arrest warrant against Sudan’s current Defence Minister Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein, as part of the pending case against Ahmed Harun and Ali Kushayb.  Evidence showed that Mr. Hussein had, when he was Minister of the Interior, supervised and coordinated the alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by those two men.

In other business, he also reported on relevant decisions by the Pre-Trial Chamber analysing the arguments made by Malawi to support its decision not to arrest Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir.  The Chamber was clear that according to the law — including international customary law — President Bashir should be arrested, he said.

Assessing today’s Council meetings, he suggested it had been useful to have the Sudanese ambassador in attendance.  His presence not only facilitated dialogue, but was critical in moving toward the ultimate goal of finding justice for the victims in Darfur.  During the closed meeting, several Council members had explained to the Sudanese delegation that the issue at hand was not whether Sudan was a State party to the Rome Statute, but whether it was upholding the Council’s resolutions.

Highlighting other issues, he noted that Côte d’Ivoire’s Prime Minister, Guillaume Soro, attended the meeting of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute and expressed his country’s commitment to sign that treaty and to cooperate with the Court.  With Deputy Prosecutor Bensouda, he informed the Prime Minister that the Prosecutor’s Office planned a sequential investigation in Côte d’Ivoire along the lines of the Ituri case in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  More arrest requests could, therefore, be expected against the forces of former President Laurent Gbagbo.  After that, the Office would investigate crimes committed by current members of the Government.

On Libya, he reported that his Office was continuing investigations, including with a trip to that country last week, and was working closely with the current national authorities.  In that regard, he noted that the judges of the International Criminal Court would decide jurisdiction if the National Transitional Council ultimately challenged his Office’s investigation of Seif al-Islam Qaddafi.  He added that the Committee on Budget and Finance had accepted his proposal for further resources to investigate the Libyan and Ivoirian cases.

Decisions would be forthcoming on the Kenya case in January, and on Callixte Mbarushimana later this month, he said.  At the same time, the arrest warrant against Bosco Ntaganda needed to be implemented.  January would also bring the final decision on the Lubanga case.  The final closing briefing was also being prepared for the case against Germain Katanga and Matthieu Ngudjolo Chui, while the Bemba case would also soon be finished.

Responding to queries on the Council’s support for the Darfur arrest warrants, he underlined members’ “total support” for the arrest warrant.  The information on Malawi presented today was new.  Thus, he expected a decision in June.

Asked if there was a chance that the Court would indict Ivorian Prime Minister Soro, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo reiterated that the investigation in Côte d’Ivoire would be approached sequentially, and that his Office would follow the evidence wherever it led.

Asked to respond to the recent declaration by Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin that the Americans were accomplices in the killing of former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, he acknowledged that the manner in which Mr. Qaddafi had died raised suspicions concerning war crimes.  He was raising that issue with Libya’s current national authorities, who were preparing a comprehensive plan for an investigation.  Moreover, his Office would present plans for further investigations in Libya to the Security Council in May 2012.

He said, in response to several questions about potential investigations in Syria and Yemen, that he had no mandate to make any inquiries without a referral by the Council.  Nevertheless, it was clear that States and citizens from around the world were learning how to request the Court’s intervention — a trend that would make the world better.

Asked if it was acceptable that current United Nations peacekeeping missions were working with Sudanese Defence Minister Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein, he pointed out that, notwithstanding his request for an arrest warrant, Mr. Hussein had not yet been indicted by the Court.  However, the United Nations had a very clear policy to restrict work with any whom the Court indicted.

Asked if Côte d’Ivoire’s handover of former President Gbagbo was an example that could be used to apply pressure on Sudan and Libya to handover President Bashir or Seif Qaddafi, he suggested the transfer was further evidence of how the Court was progressing and how its activities had reached a new level.  However, the cases were not entirely similar.  Still, destiny was clear, particularly with respect to President Bashir:  he will face justice.  In that context, it was important to recognize that, after 18 years, all 160 indictees of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia had been apprehended.

Still on Sudan, he stressed that the Court was not promoting regime change, but behaviour change.  Pressed to identify any future plans to investigate additional crimes in Sudan, he said the fact that individuals sought by the court were committing crimes in different parts of the country underlined the importance of implementing the arrest warrants that had already been issued.

Asked about his Office’s preliminary investigation into possible war crimes in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said his Office had issued a report two days ago.  The process was continuing and a team hoped to go to the Republic of Korea in the next year to discuss various developing aspects.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.