Sudan agrees to hand over Darfur war crimes suspects

Monday, June 28th, 2021 00:00 | By
Fatou Bensouda.

London, Sunday

Sudan says it will surrender former officials wanted for alleged war crimes in the Darfur region to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

As yet, Sudan has not named the individuals being handed over.

The country’s rulers had already promised to surrender ex-President Omar al-Bashir who was in power during the conflict but he remains at large.

The war in Darfur caused one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises of recent years.

At least 300,000 people have been killed in the conflict between rebels and government forces that began in 2003. Millions of others were forced from their homes and into displacement camps.

Sudan’s decision comes weeks after the ICC’s outgoing chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, visited the country and urged its leaders to surrender all those wanted including Bashir, 77.

Federal government minister Bothaina Dinar said on Saturday the Cabinet’s decision was unanimous and aimed at establishing peace and stability in the country.

The government also urged rebel groups to join the peace process.

In her final briefing to ambassadors,  Bensouda underlined that the Court is the only institution that promised hope to victims of the brutal conflict in the Sudanese province.

“When this Council referred the Darfur situation to the ICC in March 2005, it brought hope to victims of atrocity crimes in Darfur by sending a clear message that justice was not only important in its own right but also with a multiplier effect in achieving sustainable peace in Darfur”, she said.

The ICC investigations center around allegations of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, committed during the fighting which began two years earlier between Government forces, backed by allied militia known as Janjaweed, and Darfur rebel movements.

Five arrest warrants were issued, including against President Omar Al-Bashir who was deposed in 2019 after 30 years in power.

Alleged former Janjaweed commander Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman, also known as “Ali Kushayb” voluntarily surrendered himself to the ICC in June 2020 and his confirmation of charges was held last month.

Sudan has been moving along a path of political and economic transition, and last October the authorities and two Darfur armed groups signed a landmark peace agreement.

Bensouda recently led the ICC’s first mission to the country, and reported that the Court and the Government “have turned a new page in their relationship”.

Citing a new era of dialogue and cooperation, she added that investigators are preparing to travel to Darfur soon.

While the visit has rekindled hope, enthusiasm could easily be dampened “through our inaction or half-hearted, ineffective action,” she warned. - BBC

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