ICC officials in Sudan seek cooperation for Darfur justice

In this image taken from video, Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir speaks at the Presidential Palace, Friday, Feb. 22, 2019, in Khartoum, Sudan. Sudans justice minister on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021 met with officials from the International Criminal Court in the capital of Khartoum to discuss cooperation with the tribunal in the trials related to the Darfur conflict, his office said. The ICC charged al-Bashir with war crimes and genocide for allegedly masterminding the campaign of attacks in Darfur. (AP Photo/Mohamed Abuamrain)
In this image taken from video, Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir speaks at the Presidential Palace, Friday, Feb. 22, 2019, in Khartoum, Sudan. Sudans justice minister on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021 met with officials from the International Criminal Court in the capital of Khartoum to discuss cooperation with the tribunal in the trials related to the Darfur conflict, his office said. The ICC charged al-Bashir with war crimes and genocide for allegedly masterminding the campaign of attacks in Darfur. (AP Photo/Mohamed Abuamrain) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

CAIRO – Sudan’s justice minister met with officials from the International Criminal Court in the capital of Khartoum on Sunday to discuss cooperation with the tribunal in the trials related to the Darfur conflict, his office said.

Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari said Sudanese authorities are conducting “internal deliberations” over “the best ways of cooperation” with the ICC. He did not elaborate.

The 12-member ICC delegation, headed by Deputy Prosecutor James Kirkpatrick Stewart, arrived in Khartoum early Sunday. The visit is coming around two months after the court’s Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda criticized Sudan’s transitional authorities over the lack of progress in cooperation with the African country to bring justice to victims of Darfur conflict.

The conflict in the western Darfur region broke out when rebels from the territory’s ethnic central and sub-Saharan African community launched an insurgency in 2003, complaining of oppression by the Arab-dominated government in the capital Khartoum.

Then-President Omar Al-Bashir’s government responded with a scorched-earth campaign of aerial bombings and unleashed militias known as Janjaweed, who are accused of mass killings and rapes. As many as 300,000 people were killed and 2.7 million people were driven from their homes.

The ICC charged al-Bashir with war crimes and genocide for allegedly masterminding the campaign of attacks in Darfur. He has been under arrest since the Sudanese military, under pressure from protesters, ousted him in April 2019.

Two other senior figures of al-Bashir’s rule accused by the ICC of war crimes and crimes against humanity also are under arrest in Khartoum. They are Abdel-Rahim Muhammad Hussein, interior and defense minister during much of the conflict, and Ahmed Haroun, a senior security chief at the time and later the leader of al-Bashir’s ruling party.

The ICC is also seeking rebel leader Abdulla Banda, whose whereabouts are not known.