The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo today called on the Security Council to adopt measures to ensure the arrest of Sudanese leaders indicted for war crimes, stressing that the Government’s refusal to arrest President Omar Al-Bashir constitutes “a direct challenge to the Council’s authority.”
“Those who bear the greatest responsibility have been indicted. The current challenge is their arrest,” Mr. Moreno-Ocampo told a meeting of the Security Council in New York. “It is for the Council to determine the measures to be adopted to ensure the compliance of the Government of the Sudan.”
The Security Council asked the ICC, which is based in The Hague in the Netherlands, to investigate war crimes in Darfur in 2005 after a UN inquiry found serious violations of international human rights law.
On March 2009, ICC judges issued arrest warrants against Sudan’s President Al-Bashir for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Darfur, where an estimated 300,000Africans have died since 2003 due to fighting between Government forces and allied Arab militiamen, known as the Janjaweed.
The ICC also issued summonses to appear for rebel leaders Abdallah Banda, Saleh Jerbo and Abu Garda in relation to war crimes. Other officials indicted include government minister Ahmed Harun, militia leader Ali Kushayb and the defence minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein.
“President Al-Bashir is taking advantage of his position of power to continue with his strategy and to ensure his own impunity and the impunity of those who follow his instructions,” Mr. Ocampo told the Council. “There is no information to believe that such crimes against humanity and genocide have stopped.”
Although Sudan is not a State Party to the Rome Statute which established the ICC, it is obliged to cooperate with and provide any necessary assistance to the Court and the prosecutor in accordance with a Security Council resolution adopted in 2005. However, the ICC Prosecutor cited other options for moving forward.
“The execution of the arrest warrants on the Sudanese territory is the primary responsibility of the Government of Sudan, and UNAMID [the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur] should not be authorized to carry out or assist to secure arrests,” Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said. “The Council can, in due course, evaluate other possibilities including asking UN Member States or regional organizations to execute arrest operations in furtherance of the arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court.”
“The victims will receive a clear message: they are not ignored. And the perpetrators will receive a clear message: there will be no impunity. Time is running out,” he added.