Sudan — often known as Africa’s last dictatorship — met the International Criminal Court deadline on Monday to quit the world’s top court after an unprecedented move that drew a rare degree of praise from its neighbors.
The killing, rape and destruction by the government of President Omar al-Bashir in Darfur — nearly five years after the ICC launched an investigation — has pushed Sudan into a corner. Even after its withdrawal, Sudan will be unable to take part in the court because its state prosecutor is facing a case before the court, of crimes allegedly committed in Darfur. Sudan has also been asked to surrender the central figures accused of committing the crimes. The ICC said in a statement that Sudan had notified the court on Saturday that it would end the fight against the court on Monday.
The United States condemned the move. “[Sudan] has completely failed to meet its legal obligations to respect the ICC’s authority and to end its heinous abuses,” said spokesman Mark Toner, adding that the move would be “frustrating” for the court.
In part, the withdrawal comes because Sudan’s citizens and parliament felt that, under the court’s current laws, it would not be possible to have Sudan removed from its crime list. Without the country removing itself from the listing, the prosecutor of the ICC in The Hague was forced to seek a referral from the Security Council of the United Nations and was therefore only able to file a request to try three members of the ruling National Congress Party in Darfur. Only two of the alleged criminals — Ahmed Haroun and Abdelrahim Muhammad Hussein — actually face trial. The government has been pushing for the trial of the third suspect, Ali Kushayb, a member of the ruling party. Kushayb is the militia leader who had the most to gain from these crimes but is largely seen as a victim of state repression.
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