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ICC, Sudan discussed cooperation agreement on Darfur crimes: Bensouda

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ICC prosecutor, Sudanese officials discussed cooperation agreement on Darfur crimes on 20 October 2020 (ST photo)October 20, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - The war crimes court prosecutor discussed the signing of a cooperation agreement with the Sudanese government as The Hague-based tribunal prepares to send investigations teams to Darfur after the ouster of the al-Bashir regime.

Fatou Bensouda, the International Criminal Court on Tuesday concluded a three-day visit to Khartoum where she was received by the collegial head of state, the prime minister and legal authorities. Also, she had the opportunity to meet Darfurian civil society groups.

During her stay in the Sudanese capital, she was provided security and treated as a head of state with all the required dispositions to mark the rupture with the former regime.

The Gambian lawyer came to Khartoum with the idea to get the cooperation of the Sudanese authorities to conduct vital investigative activities in Darfur. The ICC prosecutor office has no access to the affected populations and all the accounts and evidence were collected under difficult conditions and after interviews conducted in the refugee camps in Chad.

In a press conference in Khartoum, she expressed that this "historic visit" would mark a new era of cooperation between her office and the Sudanese authorities, before to add that she had the opportunity to lay out the foundation for bilateral cooperation.

"We must now follow through and build on the promising discussions of this past week with concrete action," she said.

"A Memorandum of Understanding on the modalities of cooperation, technical visits, and immediate access to Sudan by our investigators, amongst other action points were discussed, and we look forward to making timely progress on all of these items," she further stressed.

Last September, the Office of the ICC General Prosecutor requested to postpone the trial of Darfur militia leader Ali Kushayb to June 2021 saying they are not ready for the trial.

"The Prosecution is now reviving a case which has been largely dormant for well over a decade. Since 2007, limited investigative activities have been carried out in relation to this case within the constraints of the Prosecution’s restricted resources and the total lack of cooperation with the Government of Sudan," the office said.

The prosecutor called on the affected Darfurian communities to provide her office "with the accounts of their sufferings, with the stories of what they have witnessed and what they have endured".

She, also, announced that ICC officials including the Prosecutor and the Registry offices would soon arrive in Sudan to explain the work of the ICC and its processes.

"Now that the channels of communication are open and a spirit of cooperation guides our discussions with the Sudanese authorities, we are open to exploring the possibilities in full compliance with our obligations under the Rome Statute, and guided by our unflinching commitment to achieving justice for the victims in Darfur," she said.

The former Sudanese regime refused to cooperate with the ICC saying it was not a part of the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC) and therefore it had no jurisdiction in Sudan.

However, the situation in Darfur was referred to the ICC by the United Nations Security Council in its resolution 1593, adopted on 31 March 2005, after receiving a report by the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur.

Also, the Security Council in its resolution required Sudan to cooperate fully with the court.

The case of Darfur crimes was the first to be referred to the ICC by the United Nations Security Council, and the first ICC investigation on the territory of a non-State Party to the Rome Statute. Also, it was the first ICC investigation dealing with allegations of the crime of genocide.

(ST)

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