International Criminal Court halts Darfur war crimes investigations

Fatou Bensouda, International Criminal Court prosecutor, has said she has suspended investigations into alleged war crimes in Sudan’s Darfur, criticising the UN Security Council for inaction over the conflict-hit region. Her comments came amid a Ugandan-led campaign for African countries to pull out of the Hague-based ICC, following the collapse of the case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. She rebuked the UN body for failing to push for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for alleged crimes committed in Darfur. Bashir is wanted over charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the western region of Sudan, where his government has been battling to suppress an insurgency since 2003.

I am left with no choice but to hibernate investigative activities in Darfur as I shift resources to other urgent cases.

Fatou Bensouda, International Criminal Court prosecutor

Bashir, who has ruled Sudan for 25 years, became the first sitting head of state to be indicted by the ICC in 2009, but he has since continued to travel to countries that have been unwilling to arrest him. Over the past months, he travelled to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Ethiopia, which were asked by the court to arrest him. Bensouda said “massive new displacements” have taken place this year in Darfur. The prosecutor also said allegations that Sudanese forces raped 200 women and girls in a Darfur village in late October “should shock this council into action”.