The head of Sudan’s ruling council pledged full co-operation with the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has an outstanding arrest warrant for ousted president Omar al-Bashir for alleged war crimes and genocide in Darfur, Human Rights Watch said.
Bashir, also accused of crimes against humanity in Darfur, has been jailed in Khartoum since he was toppled last year. Four other Sudanese suspects are wanted by the ICC on charges related to atrocities in the Darfur region.
Human Rights Watch director Kenneth Roth said he met the head of Sudan’s ruling council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.
“He was clear about government’s willingness to co-operate fully with the ICC,” Roth told Reuters from Khartoum where he met with Burhan and Sudan’s prime minister.
On Tuesday, Sudan’s government and rebel groups in Darfur agreed all wanted by the ICC should appear before the tribunal.
The agreement is part of talks between Sudan’s new government and rebels in Darfur and other neglected regions to broker a peace agreement after years of conflict.
Some observers noted while civilian members of Sudan’s ruling council might back ICC co-operation it was unclear if military members would. Roth said Burhan was unconditional in his support for the move.
“We were not sure how the meeting with the general was going to go but he reaffirmed what we heard from other government officials,” Roth said, adding it was unsure what form co-operation would take.
“He pledged full co-operation. Obviously it’s an open question if it means surrendering Bashir and the other four to The Hague or does it mean co-operating with the ICC to have strong, fair domestic prosecutions?” he said.
The ICC is meant to step in only if states are unwilling or unable to prosecute alleged crimes themselves.
Human Rights Watch warned while meetings with Burhan and Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok were positive, it was early days and “these are just words, not actions”.