January 26, 2023 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan is not cooperating with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in its investigations on the war crimes committed in the Darfur region, despite promises and signed agreements, Prosecutor Karim Khan told the Security Council on Thursday,.
At the end of his visit to Sudan on August 29, 2022, Khan told reporters that the head of the military-led Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah made an unequivocal commitment to support ICC investigations in Darfur crimes.
Accordingly, al-Burhan agreed to establish the ICC country office in Khartoum, multiple entry visas for ICC staff members, unimpeded access to documentation relevant to the ICC investigations, access to government or former government witnesses, full assistance and cooperation with the ICC prosecutor office.
Five months later, in his briefing to the 15-member body, Khan stated the cooperation of the Sudanese authorities is key to achieving justice and meeting the call of the victims for justice.
“The unfortunate truth – and it brings me no pleasure at all to say it – is that the Government of Sudan is not meeting the requirements of cooperation set out by this Council under Chapter 7 of the Charter in Resolution 1593 all those years ago in 2005,” he said.
He added that the Sudanese senior official did not honour the pledges nor the signed agreement before regretting that “cooperation has deteriorated, not improved, since my last briefing”.
He said that access to Sudan has become more difficult, pointing out that ho multiples visa have been delivered and once in Sudan with a single entry visa they have to wait before getting internal travel permits with much of difficulties.
The prosecutor added that the authorities also restricted access to documentation and witnesses, even access to public documents in the National Archives. He stressed they have made 34 requests for assistance that are still unanswered.
Before the October 25, 2021 coup, the civilian government facilitated the access of the ICC investigators to Darfur as the prosecution was in dire need of crucial testimonies and witnesses who can produce for the trial of Ali Kushayb.
Kushayeb is a senior leader of the Janjaweed militia in Darfur charged with 31 war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Commenting on Khan’s statements, the Sudanese ambassador to the United Nations Al-Harith Idris told the Security Council that the political situation in the country negatively affected the cooperation with the court.
“The challenges mentioned by the Court’s Prosecutor relating to Sudan’s cooperation primarily result from the current circumstances in Sudan — namely, its exceptional transitional phase”.
On the ICC’s requests for assistance, the Sudanese diplomat spoke about bureaucratic issues saying that relevant authority was not transferred from the Ministry of Justice to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has prevented fulfilling such requests.