8554th Security Council Meeting: Reports of Secretary-General on Sudan and South Sudan

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19-Jun-2019 01:31:51
Sudan must hand over former President, other suspects, International Criminal Court Prosecutor tells Security Council, urging justice for victims of violence at 8554th meeting.

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Sudan is legally obliged to transfer former President Omer Hassan Ahmed al‑Bashir and two other suspects detained in the Darfur situation to the International Criminal Court, the Chief Prosecutor told the Security Council today, outlining her willingness to engage with authorities to ensure they face impartial justice — either in The Hague or in the politically volatile country.

“Now is the time for the people of Sudan to choose law over impunity and ensure that [Court] suspects in the Darfur situation finally face justice,” said Fatou Bensouda, presenting her twenty-ninth report. Following Mr. Al‑Bashir’s 11 April ouster, Sudan has an opportunity to depart from its policy of non‑cooperation and signal a new commitment to accountability for the victims of violence. All five Court arrest warrants in the Darfur situation remain in force, she insisted. “The former status quo is over.”

Mr. Al‑Bashir has been arrested and charged with domestic offences, while two other suspects — Abdel Raheem Hussein and Ahmad Harun — are reportedly detained in Khartoum, she said. Sudan is under a legal obligation to transfer them to the Court unless it can prove it is willing and able to prosecute them for the same cases. It is also obliged to arrest and surrender Ali Kushayb and Abdallah Banda, who are still at large, and provide her Office unfettered access to Sudan.

Recalling that civilian protesters in Khartoum were attacked on 3 June by Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces — which include members of the former Janjaweed militias linked to systematic rights abuses in Darfur — she urged the Transitional Military Council to ensure its inquiry into those events is conducted promptly. She called for the Security Council’s strong and effective support in pursuing justice. “We must not squander this opportunity,” she asserted.

In the ensuing discussion, delegates presented a range of views on the Court’s jurisdiction, with Côte d’Ivoire’s representative stressing that States will cooperate with the Court “only if we can dispel the clouds of useless suspicion” around the judicial body. Resolution 1593 (2005), he recalled, encourages the Court to promote the rule of law and combat impunity.

Equatorial Guinea’s delegate meanwhile called for resumed dialogue between the Transitional Military Council and stakeholders on the content of the political transition. He urged parties to respect all human rights, adding that Equatorial Guinea is not a party to the Rome Statute and thus ignores its jurisdiction.

The Russian Federation’s delegate cited as “strange” the Court’s opinion that a State official does not have immunity before a competent national court, as the hunt for Mr. Al-Bashir demonstrates the opposite: the countries he visited during his presidency did recognize that immunity and refused to arrest him. He accused the Prosecutor of “academic experimenting”, noting that limiting the freedom of a foreign State official enters the realm of inter-State relations.

Along similar lines, China’s delegate urged all parties to avoid interfering in Sudan’s internal affairs, while South Africa’s representative underscored the importance of the Sudanese people charting their own path to peace, “devoid of interference”.

Clarifying the national perspective, Sudan’s delegate said his country is not a Rome Statute party and the Court is not an organ of the United Nations. Thus, “we are not obliged towards the Court”, he said. The events unfolding since December 2018 are ushering in a new reality and a new regime that will respect freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

Stressing the independent nature of Sudan’s judiciary and its ability to achieve justice, he said the Public Prosecutor has started investigations into Mr. Al-Bashir — whose fair trial will begin next week — as well as Mssrs. Hussain and Harun. He insisted that resolution 1593 (2005) does not provide an exemption from immunity, emphasizing that a targeted person remains entitled to that protection and can invoke it “in the face of the Court”.

Also speaking today were representatives of Belgium, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Peru, United States, Poland and Kuwait.

The meeting began at 10 a.m. and ended at 11:32 a.m.

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