ICC prosecutor urges Sudan to hand over Darfur suspects

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Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), speaks to journalists after briefing the Security Council at its meeting on the situation in Libya at the UN Headquarters in New York. (Photo by Luiz Rampelotto/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), speaks to journalists after briefing the Security Council at its meeting on the situation in Libya at the UN Headquarters in New York. (Photo by Luiz Rampelotto/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda briefed the U.N. Security Council for the last time as the chief prosecutor on Wednesday, lamenting that the tribunal has not yet brought justice to victims of atrocities in Sudan’s western Darfur region.

According to Bensouda, the Darfur victims she spoke to last week had one message: Sudan’s transitional government should hand over three suspects sought by the court who are in its custody — former President Omar al-Bashir, who is accused of genocide; former defense minister Abdel Raheem Hussein, and former interior minister and governor Ahmad Harun.

Bensouda, whose mandate ends June 15, said she has focused on Darfur since crimes being committed there were referred to the court by the Security Council in 2005 when she was deputy prosecutor. But her recent visit to Sudan and Darfur was a first — a memorable trip that she said was “a strong reminder that we should focus on achieving justice for the victims and finding lasting peace for the people of Darfur.”

Bensouda however cautioned, that “the road ahead remains long and fraught with dangers,” saying that Sudan’s transition following al-Bashir’s ouster in April 2019 after mass protests demanding civilian rule “is still in its infancy.”

The vast Darfur region was gripped by bloodshed in 2003 when rebels from the territory’s ethnic central and sub-Saharan African community launched an insurgency accusing the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum of discrimination and neglect.

Bensouda said she urged the handover of al-Bashir and the others at meetings with Sudanese government officials, including the head of the Sovereignty Council, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

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