UNITED NATIONS — The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, on Thursday called for more cooperation from Sudan.
Bensouda said she stressed, in her trip to Sudan in October, the urgent need for ICC investigators to be given access to the territory of Sudan.
“I reiterate this call and urge this Council to impress upon Sudan the urgent need for my investigators to access its territory and in particular, to conduct investigative missions in Darfur without further delay,” she told the UN Security Council in a briefing.
“It had been my hope that my team would have traveled to Sudan in November for an operational assessment mission to pave the way for fully-fledged investigative activities immediately thereafter.
Unfortunately, this mission was postponed at the request of the Sudanese authorities.”
Unless the mission is rescheduled soon, the ICC investigators risk losing a golden opportunity to directly engage with victims and witnesses, in situ, for the first time and to ensure their evidence is made available to the judges at Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman’s confirmation of charges hearing, currently scheduled for Feb. 22, 2021, she said.
Abd-Al-Rahman, also known as Ali Kushayb, was transferred to the ICC on June 9, 2020, following his voluntary surrender to the authorities in the Central African Republic.
He made his initial appearance before an ICC pre-trial chamber on June 15, which scheduled the confirmation of charges hearing for Dec. 7, 2020. The hearing has since been postponed to Feb. 22, 2021.
Sudan’s immediate facilitation of access to its territory would demonstrate to victims, to the Sudanese people and to the international community that Sudan seriously intends to implement the principles adopted in the Juba Peace Agreement and the Security Council’s resolution which referred the situation of Darfur to the ICC, said Bensouda.
“It would further give concrete expression to the assurances of cooperation conveyed to me in person during the recent historic visit of my office to Khartoum. It would equally signal that Sudan is genuinely committed to the path of justice. The Security Council can play a decisive role in expediting this process and ensuring Sudan’s full, prompt and tangible cooperation with the ICC, consistent with its international obligations. The victims of atrocity crimes in Darfur deserve to finally see real progress in the pursuit of justice, she said.