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Sudan Tribune

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ICC prosecutor urges action to stop atrocity crimes in Sudan

Karim Khan ICC prosecutor (UN photo)

Karim Khan ICC prosecutor (UN photo)

January 29, 2024 (NEW YORK) – The International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor, Karim Khan, has called on the UN Security Council to take immediate action to halt the escalating violence and impunity in Sudan, warning that the country is on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.

Addressing the Security Council from Chad where he visited Sudanese refugees on Monday, Khan presented compelling evidence to support his assertion that the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

“We are fast approaching a critical juncture,” Khan emphasized, “where the violence and impunity in Sudan could spiral out of control, jeopardizing the lives of millions.”

He urged all parties involved in the conflict to adhere strictly to international humanitarian law, emphasizing that “compliance cannot be treated as a ritualistic incantation.”

Khan also underscored the detrimental impact of the international community’s failure to execute warrants issued by the ICC, stating that this inaction has fostered a climate of impunity that has emboldened the perpetrators of atrocities in Sudan.

“The failure to address the nettle of impunity in Darfur has allowed the garden of Sudan to become infested with weeds,” he declared.

To address this pressing issue, Khan called on the Security Council to adopt a new approach to the conflict in Darfur, one that goes beyond traditional judicial measures.

“Judicial orders and court judgments alone cannot solve the problem,” he asserted. “We need innovative solutions that address the underlying causes of the violence and build a lasting peace in Sudan.”

The prosecutor criticized the government for its lack of cooperation with the ICC. Despite the government’s efforts to establish a focal point for the Court and issue single-entry visas, it has not responded to 35 requests for assistance, he said.

The military-led government after the coup slowed the cooperation that the civilian government had started to facilitate the investigations of the ICC in Darfur including. Also, the military component had opposed the handover of al-Bashir and other senior officials including Harun who is indicted in the same crimes facing the militia leader Ali Kushayb who is under trial.

In response to Khan, Sudan’s ambassador Al-Harith Idris denied the allegations of ICC non-cooperation, asserting that his country is actively cooperating with the Court. He added that all the documents found have been submitted to the Prosecutor.

Idris also raised concerns about the ICC’s subjective assessment of cooperation, arguing that it fails to consider the strategic engagement and operational realities on the ground.

Furthermore, he detailed the attacks perpetrated by the Rapid Support Forces and its allied militias, including the December 15 armed assaults on the country’s second-largest commercial centre. He accused these militias of recruiting child soldiers and employing foreign mercenaries from neighbouring countries and the Sahel region.

The Sudanese representative also accused the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of sponsoring these militias and supplying them with weapons.

Citing Article 51 of the UN Charter, the Sudanese representative insisted that Sudan has the right to self-defence, categorically rejecting the allegations of its armed forces’ involvement in atrocity crimes.

“Sudan is fighting a defensive war,” he asserted, “and its actions are in line with international law,” said Idris.