Darfur Women Action Group welcomes the visit of International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to “meet communities affected by war crimes and crimes against humanity” committed in Darfur. Prosecutor Bensouda travelled to speak with the interim government, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and victims across the country. Prosecutor Bensouda’s direct engagement with survivors in the IDP camps highlights the necessity of including the people of Darfur in the pursuit of justice. This was her second trip to Sudan, following a visit in October 2020 to prepare for the case against Ali Kushayb. An ICC investigation will follow shortly after her visit to collect new evidence and speak to more survivors in preparation for the cases against Kushayb and other former leaders who have been indicted by the Court.
On May 29, Prosecutor Bensouda met with Minni Minnawi, the wali (governor) of the Darfur region in Khartoum to discuss the coordination of the interim government and the ICC in seeking justice. Minnawi stressed the importance of handing over Haroun and al-Bashir to the ICC. She travelled to El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, on May 30 to meet with North Darfur Governor Mohamed Hassan Arabi. Bensouda called for all accused persons to appear before the ICC and discussed with Arabi his support for the ongoing Juba peace negotiations. She also met with representatives of North Darfur’s IDPs to address their demands for justice and urged all affected communities to participate with the incoming investigators. Bensouda also expressed her grave concern over the gender-based violence continuing to plague the region.
Prosecutor Bensouda arrived in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur, on May 31. There, she met with state wali Musa Mahdi and members of the South Darfur security committee to learn about the ongoing insecurity in the region. The delegation reaffirmed their support for victims to participate in ICC proceedings. Prosecutor Bensouda then visited the Kalma camp outside of Nyala – her first visit to an IDP camp. Her long-awaited presence was greeted with a resoundingly warm welcome and with crowds chanting for the transfer and prosecution of all ICC indictees. Bensouda sat for an interactive session with members of the camp and visited the mass grave site in Kalma.
The importance of the Prosecutor’s engagement with survivors cannot be emphasized enough. DWAG remains committed to supporting survivors so they may receive justice. We stand in solidarity with those who spoke with Prosecutor Bensouda and commend their bravery in speaking out. The evidence and testimony provided by victims in ICC cases is vital to holding the perpetrators of the genocide accountable. Every victim has the right to seek justice for the crimes committed against them and participate in the ICC proceedings.
DWAG strongly supports Prosecutor Bensouda in her call for the interim government to hand Ahmed Haroun over to the ICC, who stands accused of the same charges Ali Kushayb is currently being tried for. The timing of this visit, with the end of Prosecutor Bensouda’s nine-year term as Chief Prosecutor, displays her commitment to achieving justice and the importance of the Court in reconciling the injustices levied on the people of Darfur in the past two decades. By marking the end of her term with a visit to Darfur, Bensouda sends a strong message to the international community that the people of Darfur must not be forgotten. DWAG urges her successor Mr. Karim Ahmed Khan to continue her tireless efforts to hold the perpetrators of the Darfur genocide accountable by ensuring direct and full participation of the victims.
The survivors of the Bashir regime’s crimes must not wait any longer. No lasting peace or stability can occur until the offenders answer for their crimes. DWAG demands that the interim government hand over Haroun and al-Bashir to the ICC for the atrocities committed against the people of Darfur. The right to justice of the people of Darfur cannot be fulfilled until all of the indictees are tried for their crimes before an impartial, international court.
DWAG encourages our dedicated supporters to continue standing in solidarity with the victims. We call for you to join us in our demands to the interim government for the immediate transfer of Haroun, al-Bashir, and Hussein to ICC custody. Your efforts are needed now more than ever as we approach justice.