June 16, 2008
Security Council Takes Important Step 'Towards Ensuring Justice and Accountability' in Darfur
New York, NY – In a move applauded by Human Rights First, the Security Council issued an unprecedented presidential statement today challenging the Government of Sudan’s failure to cooperate in handing over two suspects to the International Criminal Court and urging it and “other parties to the conflict in Darfur to cooperate fully” with the Court. “Today’s statement is an important step towards ensuring justice and accountability for the crimes committed in Darfur,” said Betsy Apple, Director of the Crimes against Humanity Program at Human Rights First. It has been more than one year since the International Criminal Court charged Minister of Humanitarian Affairs Ahmed Harun and militia leader Ali Kusheyb with 51 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity and issued warrants for their arrest. Since then, Sudan has refused to arrest the two suspects and hand them over to the Court. In response to a strongly critical report by Louis Moreno Ocampo, the Prosecutor of the ICC, delivered to the Security Council on June 5th of this year, the Council made clear today that it would not allow Sudan’s defiance to go unnoticed. “There will be no peace until the perpetrators of serious crimes have been held accountable. The Council put Sudan on notice that it can no longer ignore its obligation to arrest Harun and Ali Kusheyb and set the wheels of justice in motion,” Apple said The Security Council had made justice for the crimes committed in Darfur a priority of its work when it initially referred the situation to the ICC in 2005 under Security Council resolution 1593. Now that it has unanimously reaffirmed this commitment, the Council will need to make good on its admonition to Khartoum if it continues to refuse to comply with the arrest warrants. “Sudan should take today’s Presidential Statement as a very serious warning,” Apple said. “Sudan no longer has a free pass with the Security Council. That the United States, as the president of the Council, supported this statement shows that even countries that are not members of the ICC have completely lost patience with the government of Sudan.” The statement was unanimously approved by all members of the Security Council, including China, which is well known for its support of the government of Sudan. This morning, the Council of the European Union also issued a statement declaring that the Union stood ready to consider measures against individuals in Sudan responsible for not cooperating with the ICC. HRF welcomes this statement and believes that the Security Council should seriously consider similar measures if Sudan’s does not soon demonstrate that it is willing to turn the suspects over to The Hague immediately. Human Rights First is a member of the Justice for Darfur Campaign. For more information about Human Rights First, go to www.humanrightsfirst.org. For more information about the Justice for Darfur Campaign, go to www.justice4darfur.org.