I thank the Prosecutor Ms Fatou Bensouda for her 33rd periodic report on the situation in Sudan, Darfur, and her briefing.
Allow me start by reaffirming Estonia’s unwavering commitment to promoting respect for international law and rules-based international order in which the ICC plays a vital role. We call on all States to uphold and defend the principles and values enshrined in the Rome Statute.
Estonia welcomes the landmark visit by the Prosecutor and the representatives of her office to Sudan in the end of May where she met with the victims of Darfur, the high officials of the Government of Sudan and other stakeholders. Hopefully this paves the way for strengthening cooperation in pursuit of justice for atrocity crimes.
We welcome the fact that the ICC has been able to carry out investigations on the ground. Access to the territory of Sudan remains critical for the investigations and ensuring accountability. Preservation of evidence is crucial. There needs to be unimpeded access for the ICC investigators to witnesses, crime scenes and other evidence in Darfur. We welcome the Sudanese government’s cooperation thus far. Further cooperation may be warranted to ensure greater accountability.
The ICC has issued four outstanding arrest warrants (against Omar Al Bashir, Ahmad Harun, Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein, and Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain). These suspects wanted for atrocity crimes ought to be surrendered to the Court without delay.
Estonia remains concerned about the security situation in Darfur. The increased violence, including killing and large-scale displacement of the civilian population must stop. We call on Sudanese authorities to accelerate efforts to enhance the protection of civilians and restoration of the rule of law in Darfur. We hope that the Sudan will be cooperating closely with UNITAMS (UN Integrated Transitional Mission in Sudan) to help to build these capacities.
In order to provide justice to the victims of crimes committed, we remain expectant and hopeful that by the next reporting period there will be further concrete positive steps taken in this direction. Justice needs to play a central role in Sudan’s transition. The Sudanese people have demanded a civilian government, justice, and security – it must be our common aim to support these demands.
Finally, we would like to extend our deeply felt gratitude to Ms Bensouda as the Prosecutor of the ICC in the past nine years in office for her tireless efforts in pursuing justice for atrocity crimes for people everywhere. We wish her all the success, and look forward to cooperation with Mr Karim Khan.