Statement to the United Nations Security Council on the Situation in Darfur, pursuant to UNSCR 1593 (2005)

19 June 2019

Mr President,

  1. Allow me to begin by offering my congratulations to Kuwait for holding the Presidency of this Council for the month of June, and presiding over this briefing on the situation in Darfur, Sudan pursuant to Resolution 1593.

Mr President, Your Excellencies,

  • As we are all aware, following months of anti-government protests, and the removal from power of Mr Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir on the 11th of April, the Republic of the Sudan is in an uncertain period of political transition.
  • While I do not underestimate the complexity and fluidity of the events unfolding in Sudan, today, I have a clear message to convey: 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. Now the Council has also been presented with a unique opportunity to decisively and effectively address the impunity that has plagued Darfur. It must seize this moment.
  • As Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, I am deeply concerned by reports of recent violence perpetrated against civilians, including alleged sexual and gender-based crimes. Related violence has also spread to other regions of the country, including in Darfur, Sudan.
  • I join the members of this Council in calling for the immediate cessation of violence against civilians, their robust protection, and full accountability for the alleged crimes and related suffering the victims have endured.  I also join the Council in regretting the lives lost during this recent violence. 
  • It is imperative that allegations of violence against civilians, including sexual and gender-based violence, are promptly and effectively investigated by the Sudanese authorities, and that those responsible are brought to justice.
  • On my part, within the scope of my mandate and jurisdiction under the Rome Statute, I am committed to continuing to do all that I can to secure accountability in Sudan.
  • I also call for the full cooperation of all States Parties to the Rome Statute. States Parties must consistently and meaningfully fulfil their statutory obligation to cooperate with the Court in the investigation and prosecution of the Darfur cases.
  • As for Sudan itself, it is now at a crossroads with the opportunity to depart from its previous policy of complete non-cooperation with my Office and embark on a new chapter by signalling a new commitment to accountability for the victims in the Darfur situation. From our side, we are ready to engage at the appropriate time if there is a genuine will to bring perpetrators to account.

Mr President, Your Excellencies,

  1. All five ICC arrest warrants in the Darfur situation remain in force; however, the circumstances have changed dramatically. The former status quo is over. Mr Omar Al Bashir has been deposed, arrested, detained and charged with domestic offenses. Two other suspects in the Darfur situation, Messrs Abdel Raheem Hussein and Ahmad Harun are also reportedly detained in Khartoum.
  1. Sudan remains under a legal obligation to transfer these suspects to the ICC to stand trial, unless it can demonstrate to the Judges of the International Criminal Court that it is willing and able to genuinely prosecute them for the same cases. Consistent with the bedrock principle of complementarity enshrined in the Rome Statute, I am ready to engage in dialogue with the authorities in Sudan to ensure that the Darfur suspects face independent and impartial justice, either in a courtroom in The Hague, or in Sudan. Continued impunity is not an option. The victims of the Darfur situation deserve to finally have their day in court.

Mr President, Your Excellencies,

  1. There is an early history of cooperation between my Office and Sudan that we can and must resume. From 2005 to 2007, with the cooperation of the Government of Sudan, my Office undertook several missions to Sudan. Since that time, there has been no cooperation from Sudan whatsoever.
  1. Taking into account the complexity of the situation on the ground in Sudan, I am nonetheless ready to pursue cooperation between my Office and the authorities in Sudan, in order to fulfil my mandate.  In this endeavour, I must be able to count on the full support of this Council. I invite the engagement with my Office of all stakeholders in Sudan, including the relevant Sudanese authorities and civil society organisations.
  1. In its inaugural address on 11 April 2019, the Transitional Military Council or TMC, made a commitment to all treaties, charters and conventions, local, regional and international. This pledge must include a commitment to the United Nations Charter, pursuant to which Sudan is bound by decisions of this Council, including Resolution 1593.
  1. The judgment of the ICC’s Appeals Chamber on 6 May 2019, in relation to Mr Al Bashir’s visit to Jordan in March 2017, unequivocally confirmed the legal obligation of State Parties to arrest Heads of State subject to ICC jurisdiction. While Mr Al Bashir may no longer attempt to avail himself of Head of State immunity, the Appeals Chamber confirmed that Sudan’s obligation to “cooperate fully with and provide any necessary assistance to the Court and the Prosecutor”, as mandated by the Council in paragraph two of Resolution 1593, is legally binding. The state of the law is clear, so is the opportunity to subject those who for so long evaded justice to the law so that they finally answer to the people of Sudan and the world for the serious crimes for which they stand accused before the International Criminal Court.
  1. This legal obligation to cooperate fully includes an obligation to surrender those Darfur suspects already in custody in Sudan, and to arrest and surrender those still at large, Mr Ali Kushayb and Mr Abdallah Banda. It must also include the obligation for Sudan to provide my Office safe and unfettered access to Sudan and Darfur in particular.
  1. My expectation is that Sudan, with the support of this Council, will engage in dialogue with my Office to discuss the feasibility of a mission by my Office to Sudan in the very near future to resolve these issues.

Mr President, Your Excellencies,

  1. Together with members of this Council, past and present, I have repeatedly stressed that ending impunity for alleged Rome Statute crimes in Darfur is essential to the maintenance of peace and security in Darfur, and beyond. As recent events in Sudan sadly demonstrate, these are not empty slogans. In the absence of accountability, security forces, including aligned militia, allegedly continue to commit crimes against civilians, undeterred.
  1. Most recently, in Khartoum, Sudan’s security forces, including the Rapid Support Forces allegedly attacked civilian protestors on the 3rd of June. As recently noted by the spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the RSF includes members of the former Janjaweed militias linked to systematic human rights abuses in the Darfur region between 2003 and 2008. These abuses include the crimes alleged in a number of the arrest warrants of the suspects in the Darfur situation. It is simply intolerable that reported attacks on civilians in Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan continue to be perpetrated.
  • I join this Council in strongly condemning the recent violence in Sudan. The Sudanese authorities have announced 61 fatalities following the 3 June 2019 attack, while civil society organisations in Sudan refer to the deaths of over 100 protestors.  These attacks also resulted in sexual and gender-based violence and arbitrary arrests.
  • This was the latest of a series of reported attacks by security forces on demonstrators in Sudan, including in Darfur, since mid-December 2018. The OHCHR reported that as of the 9th of April this year, these attacks had resulted in the deaths of 70 people. It is of particular concern that, according to the Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund, at least 19 children have reportedly been killed in the crackdown on protestors.
  • The 3rd of June attack prompted widespread calls, including by the UN Secretary-General and the OHCHR, for an investigation into the use of excessive force by security forces against civilian protestors.
  • I am aware that the TMC has stated that it is investigating these events and I urge it to ensure that the investigation is conducted promptly, by independent experts, and includes all reported human rights violations against peaceful protestors throughout Sudan, including in Darfur.
  • Attacks against civilian populations in Darfur have continued during the reporting period and appear to be increasing in severity. For example, in January 2019, a militia attack on Kura, which I refer to as Katur in my report, resulted in the killing of two civilians and the burning of almost fifty houses. More recently, an attack on Deleig market on the 9th of June reportedly resulted in the killing of a number of civilians. Again, such attacks are unacceptable and must stop.
  • The approximately 1.64 million internally displaced persons in Darfur remain especially vulnerable and sexual and gender-based violence continues to restrict the freedom of movement of women and girls, in IDP camps and areas of return. Attacks against peacekeeping personnel also continue in Darfur.
  • I share the deep concern expressed by the African Union’s Peace and Security Committee on the 13th of June that security and political developments in Sudan have contributed to the recent deterioration of the security situation in Darfur. I trust this Council will support AU Peace and Security Committee’s call for the international community to continue to support the population in need in Darfur.
  • I also note with concern the reports that the RSF have allegedly seized facilities and assets previously held by the Africa Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur. In this context, I support the AU Peace and Security Council’s resolve to extend UNAMID’s mandate for a period of 12 months and the PSC’s request to the Council to do the same; as well as its rejection of the TMC’s call for UNAMID to hand over assets to the RSF, and its request that these assets are handed to civilian authorities.
  • With respect to recent alleged crimes in Darfur, let me be clear that I will continue to monitor events closely, and I will not hesitate to investigate, and where appropriate prosecute, those most responsible for alleged crimes that fall under the jurisdiction of the ICC.

Mr President, Your Excellencies,

  • Before concluding my remarks, I wish to acknowledge the support my Office has received from many States, including members of this Council, which have publicly called for Sudan’s cooperation with the ICC following recent developments in Sudan.
  • Similarly, I want to thank all those individuals and organisations that support my Office, including those inside and outside of Sudan calling for the arrest and surrender of the Darfur suspects to the ICC. I also express my sincere appreciation to those who continue to provide my Office with valuable information in relation to events in Sudan. Your continued dedication to justice for victims in the Darfur situation is truly inspirational.

Mr President, Your Excellencies,

  • My Darfur team will keep working, and I will continue to do everything in my power to obtain justice for the victims in the Darfur situation, but my Office cannot secure the arrest and surrender of the suspects without support.
  • To secure renewed cooperation between my Office and Sudan, this Council must provide strong and effective support. In a statement issued on the 11th of June, over fourteen years after referring the Darfur situation to my Office, this Council once again emphasised the importance of accountability and justice in Sudan.
  • With this Council’s support, and the cooperation of the authorities in Sudan, there is an opportunity, now, to make real progress in the pursuit of accountability and justice for the victims in the Darfur situation.  The current reported violence against civilians in Darfur must stop and all the ICC Darfur suspects must stand trial. We must not squander this opportunity.

Mr President, Your Excellencies,

  • Now is the time to act.   The victims of the Darfur situation have waited far too long to see justice done. We must not fail them. I thank you for your attention and trust that the Council will take decisive action in support of accountability in this situation.

Twenty-Ninth Report of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to the United Nations Security Council pursuant to UNSCR 1593 (2005):