ICC prosecutor stopping Darfur investigations
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The prosecutor for the International Criminal Court told the U.N. Security Council on Friday she is stopping her investigations in Sudan’s chaotic Darfur region for now because no one has been brought to justice in a decade and the council has done little or nothing to help.
Darfur’s situation is deteriorating and the brutality of crimes is increasing, but there have been no discussions with the council for “concrete solutions,” Fatou Bensouda said. She demanded a new approach.
Darfur was the council’s first referral to the ICC, which is seen as a court of last resort for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has been indicted on charges of all three and is accused of orchestrating atrocities in Darfur, but he remains at large and refuses to recognize the court’s authority. He has traveled freely to some African countries that are parties to the statute that created the ICC but have refused to arrest him as required.
Two of the countries are Chad, which holds the Security Council’s presidency this month, and council member Nigeria.
“It is becoming increasingly difficult for me to appear before you and purport to be updating you when all I am doing is repeating the same things I have said over and over again,” Bensouda told the council, which has been divided on how to press Sudan for cooperation. This was the 20th time the prosecutor has briefed the council on Darfur.
“Given this council’s lack of foresight on what should happen in Darfur, I am left with no choice but to hibernate investigative activities in Darfur as I shift resources to other urgent cases,” Bensouda said.
Reports of a mass rape of 200 women and girls in a Darfur village by government-linked fighters are the latest source of tension between Sudan and the international community, especially after a U.N. official accused Sudan of intimidating villagers during a U.N. investigation. Sudan says its own investigation found no proof anyone was raped.
Bensouda said the rape allegations should “shock this council into action.” Nigeria’s representative said his country has “no reason to doubt” the credibility of Sudan’s report, but it and Chad, among others, urged further and more independent investigations.
Darfur has been gripped by bloodshed since 2003 when rebels took up arms against the government in Khartoum, accusing it of discrimination and neglect. The United Nations says 300,000 people have died in the conflict and 2.7 million have fled their homes.
“We must collectively and urgently wake from our slumber,” a U.S. deputy ambassador, David Pressman, told the council.
But some African countries are pushing back against the court’s authority. In February, the African Union urged its 54 members to “speak with one voice” to prevent criminal proceedings at the ICC against sitting presidents. It also has asked for a deferral of criminal proceedings against al-Bashir.