Sudan crisis: accountability is a key ingredient for moving forward

(Khartoum, Kampala, The Hague, New York) — Following yesterday’s presentation of the 29th report of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), FIDH, ACJPS and SHRM call on members of the UNSC, and the international community as a whole, to recognize the importance of accountability in resolving the current and past crisis in Sudan, including in the Darfur region, and to take concrete steps to bring all those allegedly responsible for atrocities committed in Sudan to justice. Particularly, the UNSC must take action to support the ICC’s mandate, including by addressing states’ non-cooperation with the Court and executing pending arrest warrants.

The Prosecutor’s report comes amid an intensifying crackdown against civilians participating in peaceful protests demanding democracy, peace, justice and the transfer of power to civilian rule. Our organizations expressed concern over the violence perpetrated, resulting in dozens killed or disappeared, hundreds injured, and large-scale perpetration of sexual crimes and looting of civilian property. We called for the deployment of an international fact-finding mission, led by the United Nations and the African Union, to investigate this repression and hold those responsible to account. Earlier this year, our organizations marked ten years since the first warrant of arrest was issued against former president of Sudan, Omar Al-Bashir, for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur, and expressed disappointment at the ongoing failure of bringing justice to victims. This failure left impunity unaddressed and provided fertile ground for the recurrence of conflicts and repetition of violence, as seen now.

“The patterns of crimes committed over the past few weeks are all too familiar to the Sudanese people. The same conduct that has been used over the past 30 years to terrorize civilians throughout the country, including in Darfur, South Kordofan, Blue Nile, Khartoum, is now used to annihilate unanimous demands for regime change. The brutality of the Rapid Support Forces, whose members include former members of the Janjaweed militia, has to be stopped immediately, and accountability must be among the measures used to do so.”

Mossaad Mohamed Ali, Executive Director of ACJPS

In her statement to the UNSC, the ICC Prosecutor delivered a crucial message: “Now is the time to act. Now is the time for the people of Sudan to choose law over impunity and ensure that the ICC suspects in the Darfur situation finally face justice in a court of law”. The Prosecutor also stressed that the Council is presented with a unique opportunity that must be seized for justice to prevail, and that she counts on the support of the Council to take concrete steps to enhance the level of cooperation the Court receives from States, including from the government of Sudan. For over a decade, Sudan continued to defy its obligations under Resolution 1593 to cooperate with the Court including on the arrest and surrender of ICC suspects. To that end, ICC Prosecutor urged the Government of Sudan to change its position of non-compliance and embark on cooperation and engagement with the Court.

“The position taken by Sudan at the UNSC yesterday is shameful. Only a few weeks ago the Transitional Military Council committed to respecting people’s demands for justice and human rights. Now it is blatantly undermining the Court’s mandate and states that it has no obligation to comply with it. The Council and member states have a limited window of opportunity to take demonstrable action to combat impunity and take all measures to compel Sudan to fully cooperate with the ICC and other accountability mechanisms."

Arnold Tsunga, FIDH Vice President

Al-Bashir has been charged by Sudan’s public prosecutor with money laundering and other financial crimes. Leaders of the Transitional Military Council (TMC) have repeatedly indicated that Al-Bashir would not be transferred to the ICC, and would face justice before national courts. The charges formally brought against him in Sudan show once again unwillingness to prioritize accountability for serious crimes.

The people of Sudan have waited far too long to live in a country where the norms of human rights, democracy and accountability prevail.

“The international community must demonstrate that actions have consequences. Bloodshed and violence have consequences. Non-compliance with a court of law has consequences. It must also demonstrate that, once and for all, the people of Sudan have been heard and that measures—not just words—will be put into place to honor their demands.”

Magdi El Nail, SHRM Secretary-General
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