World court prosecutor urges Sudan to hand over Darfur suspects

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Fatou Bensouda briefed the United Nations (UN) Security Council for the last time as chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Wednesday, lamenting that the tribunal has not yet brought justice to victims of atrocities in Sudan’s western Darfur region. But she said a new era in Sudan and the transfer of the first Darfur suspect to the court should give them hope.

Bensouda said 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 defence minister Abdel Raheem Hussein, and former interior minister and governor Ahmad Harun.

Bensouda, whose mandate ends June 15, said she has focussed 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 cautioned, however, 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”.

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda confers with colleagues during her first audience at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. PHOTO: AP