ICC accuses UN council of failing to act on Darfur fugitives

AP News
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Posted: Dec 13, 2016 6:29 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The prosecutor for the International Criminal Court accused the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday of failing to take "swift and concrete action" against countries refusing to arrest Sudan's president and others accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur.

Fatou Bensouda told the council that President Omar al-Bashir has crossed international borders 131 times since March 2009, including 14 visits to ICC member countries that are required to carry out arrest warrants.

She said ICC judges have issued 13 decisions against Sudan and countries that are ICC members seeking U.N. action for the failure to arrest al-Bashir and four others.

Recently, Uganda and Djibouti were held in non-compliance and last week the court announced that a public hearing would be held on April 7 "in relation to a possible finding of non-compliance" for South Africa's failure to arrest al-Bashir, she said.

The Security Council's failure to act, Bensouda said, "not only severely undermines the council's credibility and that of the court" but erodes public confidence that the world's most serious crimes will be punished and that victims will receive justice.

At a minimum, the council should adopt a resolution addressing the 13 decisions by the ICC related to Darfur, she said.

The vast western region of Sudan has been gripped by bloodshed since 2003 when rebels took up arms against the government in Khartoum, accusing it of discrimination and neglect. The United Nations says 300,000 people have died in the conflict and 2.7 million have fled their homes.

The court issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir in 2009 for crimes against humanity and war crimes for allegedly orchestrating atrocities in Darfur. The ICC added genocide to the charges against him in 2010.

Bensouda said the world knows al-Bashir's movements.

"There is ample opportunity for Mr. al-Bashir to be apprehended — if the political will exists among states, and indeed, this council," she said.

She said governments must also do more to apprehend the four others sought by the court for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur — Abdel Hussein and Ahmad Harun, who hold high-ranking positions in the Sudanese government, Ali Kushayb, who remains active in government-aligned militias, and Abdallah Banda who "remains at large in Sudan."