Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

ICC stops investigation into Darfur war crimes

International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said Friday she has suspended investigations into alleged war crimes in Sudan’s Darfur, criticising the UN Security Council for inaction over the conflict-hit region.

“I am left with no choice but to hibernate investigative activities in Darfur as I shift resources to other urgent cases,” Bensouda told the Security Council.

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.

Presenting her 20th report to the council on Darfur, Bensouda warned that without action from the top UN body, the cases against Bashir and three other indicted suspects would remain deadlocked.

“What is needed is a dramatic shift in this council’s approach to arresting Darfur suspects,” Bensouda told the 15-member council. Bensouda said that without action, there would be “little or nothing to report to you for the foreseeable future.”

Calls for Africa to pull out of ICC
Her comments came amid a Ugandan-led campaign for African countries to pull out of the ICC, following the collapse of the case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. 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 Security Council remains deeply divided over the Darfur crisis, with China a key ally of the Khartoum regime.

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”. Sudan has refused to allow UN peacekeepers to fully investigate the allegations. 

A first visit by a UN team to the village of Tabit in November was conducted under heavy Sudanese military presence. At least 300 000 people have been killed in Darfur and two million forced to flee their homes, according to the UN. 

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Friday called on African countries to withdraw from the ICC, saying the court had become a “tool to target” the continent. – AFP

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

‘The children cannot cope any more’: Suicide in Calvinia highlights...

How Covid-19 has intensified the physical and emotional burdens placed on children’s shoulders.

Capitec Bank flies high above Viceroy’s arrow

The bank took a knock after being labelled a loan shark by the short seller, but this has not stymied its growth

More top stories

If the inflation-driving supply strain in the US lasts, it...

In South Africa, a strong trade surplus, buoyed by robust commodity prices, will cushion our economy against pressure arising from US policy

Covid-19: No vaccine booster shots needed yet

Scientists agree it is important to get most of the population vaccinated before giving booster jabs

The convenient myth of an Africa spared from Covid-19

There are few, if any, studies to support Pfizer chief executive’s assertion that the global south would be more vaccine-hesitant than the north

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…