When the Security Council referred the Situation in Darfur, Sudan, to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2005, it was widely applauded for a resolution that seemed highly unlikely just a few years before. During the last years, however, the sloppy treatment of Darfur by the Security Council has made the Office of the Prosecutor more and more desperate. In several reports to the Council, the OTP has complained about the lack of engagement by the Security Council (here, here, here and here). Ultimately, this behavior lead the OTP to put a halt to investigations in Darfur in December 2014 (here and here).
The 20th report of the prosecution to the Security Council is basically limited to issues already known. In addition to the aforementioned announcement, other developments complicate the ICC’s work.
The trial against Banda was supposed to begin in May, however, Trail Chamber IV postponed the commencement until 18 November 2014 (here). Still, this date was not realizable as well. When the Trail Chamber IV issued a warrant of arrest for Banda (more will follow in this blog), the Chamber simultaneously vacated the set date and postponed the begin until his arrest or voluntary appearance. This is also due to the unwillingness of Sudan to cooperate with the Court.
The Prosecutor gives one example which speaks volumes: In July 2014, the Court requested Sudan to cooperate and to facilitate Banda’s appearance before the Court. Sudan is by international law, namely by Security Council resolution 1593 (2005), bound to cooperate with the ICC. This being the case, the request to cooperate by the ICC did not impose new obligations on Sudan. Coming back to the example, Sudan returned the envelope with the written request unopened to the Court. The disrespect for the Court as well as the Security Council could not have been expressed more pretentiously. Unfortunately, while the ICC cares, the Security Council has forsaken the Court and is once again not interested in successful international criminal justice.
Omar al-Bashir’s Travels
This is clear from the Council’s reluctance to address the issue of non-cooperation by other states. More specifically, state parties to the ICC-Statute are bound to cooperate with the Court. In particular, those states are under an obligation to arrest persons wanted with an arrest warrant by the ICC. Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s president, is one of those persons. Nevertheless, he travels freely throughout Africa and even African state parties to the ICC decline any request for help by the ICC. This is not new. It is also not new that the Security Council does not support the ICC. Moreover, the communications sent by the ICC to the Council, addressing instances of non-compliance with the Council’s own resolution, are ignored. The ICC still awaits responses to its letters.
The statements by the member’s of the Security Council after the OTP’s report are hypocritical. Some representatives concede that answers are necessary. However, nothing has been done in order to answer the requests. It seems highly unlikely that this will happen in the future.
Alleged Mass Rape in Tabita and UNAMID-reporting
“The recent allegations of rape of approximately 200 women and girls in Tabit should shock this Council into action.” With these clear words the Prosecutor addressed the Security Council and its “concerns” regarding the humanitarian situation in Darfur. The answer of the Council? Some members deny the facts and maintain that no evidence has been found to support this claim. Other members point out that no independent inquiry took place, because the Sudanese government did not grant access.
This comes in addition to alleged flawed reporting by UNAMID. The mission has been criticized for taking sides in the conflict and shielding government officials from prosecution (based on a series of three articles by Foreign Policy: 1, 2 and 3). The Prosecutor addresses the issue only briefly, referring to a report prepared for the Secretary General (here). The report found no evidence “to support the allegation that UNAMID had intentionally sought to cover up crimes against civilians and peacekeepers.” However, the report also found that in several instances UNAMID did not provide UN Headquarters with all information about the incidents. (To be fair to the Security Council, when it renewed UNAMID’s mandate until summer 2015 by resolution 2173 (2015), it welcomed the Secretary Genereal’s announcement to investigate said allegations.)
Grim Outlook on the 21st report
It does not take a crystal ball to have a grim outlook on the next report. After all, we have seen what happens after the prosecution begs for support in New York. In June 2015 the OTP will once again lament on the lack of cooperation by Sudan and other states, the Security Council’s unwillingness to address instances of non-cooperation as well as the further postponement of trials and execution of arrest warrants. That the OTP continues to monitor alleged crimes in Darfur does not brighten the outlook and it does certainly not help the people in Darfur.