Thank you, Mr. President.I would like to thank the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Ms. Fatou Bensouda, for her briefing today.
The United States remains deeply concerned about the mounting violence in Darfur and reports of deliberate targeting of civilian areas, including increased incidents of aerial bombardments, sexual and gender based violence, and other crimes. The late September shelling of Hashaba that killed at least 60 civilians and the razing of the town of Sigili in early November by the Government of Sudan-aligned Popular Defense Forces are stark cases in point. Should the violence spread beyond North Darfur, threats to civilians will only multiply.
Growing attacks on civilians have come hand in hand with more frequent and serious attempts to deny UNAMID freedom of access. In both Hashaba and Sigili, the Government of Sudan denied UNAMID access to the affected areas immediately after the attacks. Since the initial deployment of UNAMID in December 2007, 43 peacekeepers have lost their lives, including six peacekeepers since the Prosecutor’s report in June. Attacks on UNAMID peacekeepers can be prosecuted as war crimes. The Government of Sudan’s deliberate obstruction of UNAMID and failure to investigate unwarranted attacks on UNAMID fosters a continued culture of impunity and is unacceptable. This Council should condemn in the strongest possible terms any and all attacks on UNAMID personnel.
Reversing the cycle of violence and impunity requires accountability for the perpetrators. The ICC’s prosecution of the architects of the atrocities in Darfur is crucial in this regard. We note the Prosecutor’s report about proceedings in the case against Abdallah Banda and Saleh Jerbo as well as her Office’s investigation and monitoring of ongoing crimes in Darfur. However, we are dismayed that the Government of Sudan is still not cooperating with the ICC to execute the outstanding arrest warrants in the Darfur cases, despite its obligation under Security Council Resolution 1593 to cooperate fully with the Court. The subjects of these warrants remain at large and continue to cross international borders. We continue to urge all states to refrain from providing political or financial support to these individuals and we’ll work to prevent such support. Continued impunity for crimes committed in Darfur foments instability there and sends a dangerous message to the government that there are no consequences for attacking civilians elsewhere. These attacks have increased in the Two Areas in recent months, particularly in the form of indiscriminate aerial bombardments. We strongly condemn these attacks.
We urge the Government of Sudan to uphold its commitments to stand up credible local justice and accountability mechanisms. The Government of Sudan and the Darfur Regional Authority have repeatedly announced the establishment of investigative committees to determine responsibility for civilian deaths, but have not followed through. So far their announcements have been empty talk. The government-appointed Special Prosecutor for Darfur, moreover, has made not one significant arrest or prosecution. The government’s refusal to take serious action in this regard is an abrogation of its commitments to the people of Darfur under the justice and reconciliation chapter of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur.
Mr. President, we welcome the willingness of States to consider creative approaches and new tools to enable the ICC’s work in Darfur, execute outstanding arrest warrants, and ensure compliance by states with relevant international obligations. We would welcome future discussions focused on ensuring full implementation of Council resolutions with ICC referrals.
The United States appreciates Prosecutor Bensouda’s report and looks forward to continuing a constructive dialogue with the ICC and the Security Council as we work together to end impunity for crimes in Darfur, bring perpetrators to justice and prevent future atrocities.
I thank you.
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