| UNITED NATIONS, June 17
UNITED NATIONS, June 17 The prosecutor of the
International Criminal Court slammed the U.N. Security Council
on Tuesday for failing to take action against Sudan's government
and to push for the arrest of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir
and others on charges of war crimes in Darfur.
"Close to ten years since the much lauded council's referral
of the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court,
systematic and widespread crimes continue to be committed with
total impunity in Darfur," ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said.
"Time is long overdue for the government of Sudan's
consistent defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions to be
matched by this council's decisive action," Bensouda told the
council - the 19th such briefing on the western Darfur region.
Action by the 15-member Security Council is seen as unlikely
as veto-wielding member China traditionally acts as Khartoum's
protector. China abstained on the council vote in 2005 that
authorized the ICC to investigate Darfur, but has said it has
"serious reservations" about the charges against Bashir.
"China has not changed its position on the ICC in regard to
Darfur," China's U.N. diplomat Cai Weiming told the council.
British U.N. diplomat Paul McKell said it was a "poor
reflection" on the Security Council that it had been unable to
act. "We must do more to follow up on the referral to the ICC,"
he told the council.
The Hague-based court indicted Bashir in 2009 and has also
charged Defense Minister Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein, former
Interior Minister Ahmed Haroun and Janjaweed militia leader Ali
Kushayb with war crimes in Darfur.
"The reality is that the ICC's judicial process cannot take
place without arrests. Darfur suspects remain at large and no
meaningful steps have been taken to apprehend them and bring
them to justice," Bensouda said.
"It is indeed an understatement to say that we have failed
the Darfur victims who continue to bear the brunt of these
crimes," she said. "What is needed is a dramatic shift in this
council's approach to arresting Darfur suspects."
According to the United Nations, up to 300,000 people have
been killed and two million others displaced during the 11-year
conflict between the government and rebels in Darfur, 800 km
west of the capital, Khartoum.
The Sudanese government puts the toll at 10,000.
A joint United Nations and African Union peacekeeping
mission has been deployed in Darfur since 2007.
Bensouda also called for an independent and public inquiry
into allegations that the peacekeeping mission has been "subject
to manipulation, with the intentional effect of covering up
crimes committed against civilians and peacekeepers, in
particular those committed by the government of Sudan."
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols, editing by G Crosse)