Sudanese government has asked the African Union’s Open ended Committee of Ministers of Foreign Affairs on the International Criminal Court to investigate political motives behind actions of the court’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
The committee was formed pursuant to the decisions of the 25th AU Summit which was held in Johannesburg, South Africa last year.
It was established to follow up on the request made by the AU to the United Nations Security Council on the suspension/deferral of proceedings against President Omar al-Bashir while also urging the UN to withdraw the referral case in the Sudan.
Bashir was indicted by the ICC in 2009 over alleged genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Darfur conflict.
Sudan’s foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour, who headed Sudan’s delegation to the third meeting of the committee, criticised the ICC saying actions of some of its officials were driven by unnamed parties. According to a press statement from Sudan’s foreign ministry, Ghandour told the meeting that actions of the ICC chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda are driven by political reasons, demanding the committee to open an investigation about those actions which are “inconsistent with justice”.
The meeting discussed several issues pertaining to the 26 th African summit and other resolutions which rejects the ICC’s targeting of African leaders and calls on the ICC member states to withdraw if the court doesn’t bow to the African demands.
The statement pointed that the meeting listened to a briefing on the ICC’s appeal chamber ruling to vacate the charges against Kenya’s Deputy President William Samoei Ruto, saying the foreign ministers underscored the unified African stance against the targeting of African leaders.
Also, the meeting discussed the need to join the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) as a forum for African justice, saying the court would prevent external intervention and underlines ability of Africans to apply justice.
According to the statement, the meeting listened to the follow up report of the AU’s accredited nations’ ambassadors on the resolutions of the African summit regarding the ICC.
The Open ended Committee is composed of Ethiopia, Chad, Burundi, Eritrea, South Sudan, Kenya, Libya, Sudan, Madagascar, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Senegal.
The committee is chaired by Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom.
Bashir’s call comes after reports that the Africa Union Open ended Ministerial Committee on ICC has reached a decision to collectively withdraw from the Rome Statute unless certain demands are met.
The Union is demanding immunity for sitting Heads of State and Government and senior government officials. They also want the recognition for primacy to African judicial mechanisms and AU decision making organs over the ICC and the reduction of powers of the Prosecutor.
The Union also wants African proposals for the Rome Statute proposed by Kenya through the African Group in New York during the November 2016 Assembly of State Parties of the Rome Statute be addressed.
These proposals include; i) Article 27 – on Immunity, ii) Preamble part of Rome Statute to allow for complementarity of regional judicial institutions, iii) Rule 165 – rules of procedure, iv) Article 16 on the deferral of cases, and, v) Article 70 – offences against administration of justice.
The committee has also protested the standing warrants of arrest of three Kenyans; former journalist Walter Barasa, lawyer Paul Gicheru and Phillip Bett, who were accused of witness interference in the case DP William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang’s case that was terminated earlier in the month.