Report

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s Visit And Requests

Abudigana Altahir

Background:

Fatou Bom Bensouda is a Gambian lawyer and international criminal law prosecutor.

She has been the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor since June 2012, after having served as a Deputy Prosecutor in charge of the Prosecutions Division of the ICC since 2004. Before that, she was Minister of Justice and Attorney General of The Gambia from 1998 to 2000.

She has held positions of Legal Adviser and Trial Attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

History of the Investigation:

Bensouda is the first official at this level from the International Criminal Court to be able to visit Darfur since it began in 2005 to investigate crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during the conflict in this region that erupted in 2003, which left about 300,000 people dead and led to the displacement of 2.5 million of the population, according to the United Nations.

In 2009, the Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who was overthrown by widespread popular protests in April 2019.

The transitional government that took power after Al-Bashir’s ouster announced its willingness to cooperate with the International Criminal Court, which also issued two arrest warrants for two of Bashir’s assistants, Abdul Rahim Muhammad Hussein and Ahmed Haroun, who has been imprisoned in Kober prison in the Sudanese capital since 2019.
In early May, Haroun demanded that he be referred to the International Criminal Court after his appearance before a governmental investigation committee.

Bensouda held a meeting with representatives of the families of the victims who live in camps around the city of El Fasher, where they raised banners calling for justice for the victims and the handover of wanted persons to the International Criminal Court, according to local media.

And last Monday, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced that militia leader Ali Kushayb had committed murders in Darfur.

Ali Kushayb, who turned himself in last year, denied the charges, appeared before the court in a hearing to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to prosecute him on 31 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Current Requests:

Among those wanted by the international court is former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who has been in jail in Khartoum since his ouster in April 2019 and is facing several trials in Sudanese courts related to his three decades of authoritarian rule.

Bensouda and her team met Saturday with Darfur’s Gov. Mini Arko Minawi, who said the prosecutor’s main concern is to hand over those wanted by the court as soon as possible, and speed up the transfer of Haroun since his case is related to that of Kushayb.

In a Sunday meeting with officials in North Darfur province, the ICC prosecutor said they would continue demanding the government hand over all those wanted by the court, SUNA reported.

Sudan’s transitional government, which has promised democratic reforms and is led by a mix of civilian and military leaders, has previously said that war crime suspects including al-Bashir would be tried before the ICC, but the trial venue is a matter for negotiations with The Hague-based court.

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