Statement by the ICC Prosecutor, Karim AA Khan QC following his visit to Khartoum and Darfur: “Together, we must ensure that our first steps towards justice are not a false dawn” – Sudan

I am now back at the International Criminal Court in The Hague after completing my second visit to Sudan.

My mission allowed me to engage directly with survivors and affected communities and see what the recent progress we have made towards justice in Darfur means to them. It also showed how much more we now need to do together to meaningfully deliver on the accountability promises that were made nearly two decades ago.

In the towns of Nyala and Zalingei in Darfur, my team and I have been received with immense generosity by communities who have spent almost 20 years in camps for internally displaced people following crimes allegedly committed against them. The trial of Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman (“Mr. Abd-Al-Rahman” or “Ali Kushayb”), the first proceedings before the Court concerning the situation in Darfur, which I opened in April this year, has brought real hope to many who continue to feel the impact of these crimes in their daily lives.

I would like to express my gratitude to the Governors of the States of South and Central Darfur, for the support they have given in facilitating our engagement with the Darfurian communities that we ultimately seek to serve through our work.

My feelings on leaving Darfur were mixed. The response to our visit and the opening of Mr. Abd-Al-Rahman’s trial demonstrates the value of our collective work to achieve justice. Even two decades later, it’s clear that this moment is of significant significance to those we’ve met. Yet I also deeply felt that there is so much more we can do. This, as a Bureau and the international community as a whole, has yet to deserve the gratitude that has been generously expressed by the communities of Darfur. We must use this moment of hope to deepen and broaden the process of accountability, including for those who remain under arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court.

This is the message I brought to Khartoum, Sudan.

During my talks with the President of the Sovereignty Council, General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, and the Vice-President of the Sovereignty Council, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, I made it clear that full cooperation was now required from from the Sudanese authorities to advance the cases of the remaining suspects in the Darfur situation and ensure that the trial of Ali Kushayb marks the beginning of a process towards broader justice. These discussions ended with an unequivocal commitment from General Al-Burhan to support the immediate implementation of the following measures:

  • Creation of a national office of the International Criminal Court in Khartoum, Sudan, to support the deployment of more investigators, lawyers and analysts in the field;
  • Provision of multiple entry visas to enable the Office to maintain a continuous presence in Sudan;
  • Unimpeded access to documentation in Sudan relating to investigations conducted by my Office;
  • Unimpeded access to government or former government witnesses and other important witnesses in Sudan;
  • Effective, comprehensive and timely responses to all requests for assistance that my Office has submitted to the Sudanese authorities, as detailed in my recent report to the United Nations Security Council.

Following these welcome commitments, I look forward to further cooperation from the Sudanese authorities in the weeks to come. It is now up to the Sudanese authorities to respect the clear commitments they have made.

I was delighted that Deputy Prosecutor Nazhat Shameem Khan was able to join me in Khartoum, where she met other senior Sudanese officials, including members of the Sovereignty Council, Mr. Elhadi Idriss and Mr. Eltahir Hajar; Acting Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohamed Saeed Elhilou; Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dafallah Elhaj Ali; Attorney General, Mr. Khalifa Ahmed Khalifa; and the Governor of Darfur, Mr. Suliman Arcua Minnawi. During her visit, Deputy Prosecutor Khan also met with the Darfur Bar Association and civil society organizations, underscoring my Office’s commitment to deepen our cooperation with all partners in our efforts to expand accountability. in the situation in Darfur. I take note of the views expressed at these meetings that the ICC should be determined to continue its Darfur-related investigations and prosecutions.

On Tuesday August 23, I had the honor of briefing the United Nations Security Council directly from Khartoum. This was the first-ever briefing to the Council by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court from a situation country. This underscored a message that I have been clear on since taking over as prosecutor in June last year. We can only accelerate our investigative work if we reach out to communities affected by Rome Statute crimes.

In my briefing to the Council, I stressed that the need to fully meet the expectations of survivors and communities in Darfur is a collective necessity. That while it may sometimes seem that the world has forgotten the people of Darfur, they themselves have not forgotten the promise made by the Security Council and the Court in resolution 1593 (2005). I look forward to working with all Council members and with all concerned States, including the Sudan in particular, as we now seek to renew our common work towards justice.

I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Sudan and Head of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in the Sudan (UNITAMS), Dr. Volker Perthes, as well as to the United Nations Program Development Organization (UNDP) in Sudan, for their invaluable support during my visit.

The situation in Darfur was the first case referred to the ICC by the United Nations Security Council (20005). This is the first ICC investigation on the territory of a state not party to the Rome Statute. Reports of ICC prosecutors to the UNSC on the situation in Darfur are available here.

For more details on “preliminary examinations” and “situations and cases” before the Court, click hereand here.

Source: Office of the Prosecutor | Contact: [email protected]