Despite years of inaction by Sudan’s government, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held out hope that President Omar al-Bashir might still order his country’s courts to prosecute war crimes in Darfur and possibly avert his own war crimes trial by the International Criminal Court.
“You can never say that it is too late,” said Mr Ban. “Even now, I think they can take – and they should take – the necessary measures.”
The International Criminal Court, which recently issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity, only steps in to prosecute these crimes and genocide if countries cannot or do not take action themselves.
Since 2004, Sudan has failed to comply with UN Security Council demands “to apprehend and bring to justice” perpetrators of atrocities in Darfur.
Because of the government’s failure to act, the council in 2005 referred Darfur to the International Criminal Court, the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal known as the ICC.
The secretary-general did not make clear if he was suggesting that a Sudanese courts could then prosecute al-Bashir or others for crimes in Darfur, where up to 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million have been driven from their homes since rebel groups took up arms against the government in 2003, complaining of discrimination and neglect.