New York - A top International Criminal Court prosecutor called on Monday for the UN Security Council to ensure Sudan's compliance with a court order for the arrest of President Omar al-Bashir.
In 2009, the ICC judges charged Bashir and his former defence minister, Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein, with war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur. The ICC issued warrants for their arrest.
More than 300 000 people have been killed and around two million people displaced since 2003 in a conflict that pits non-Arab rebel groups against the Arab-dominated government and its allied militias, according to the United Nations.
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ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told the Security Council that the pre-trial chamber of the court found in March and June that Sudan has failed to arrest and surrender al-Bashir and Hussein to ICC.
"It must be stressed that this council also has a vital role to play and must do its part," she said.
Bensouda said that because of Sudan's non-co-operation in the last six years, "innocent civilians continue to bear the brunt of insecurity and instability, in particular as a result of what appears to be an on-going government campaign to target them".
Arresting and bringing Bashir and other government officials charged with war crimes "to face justice is the only way to stop these crimes", she said.
Punitive measures against Sudan
Bensouda's call on the council for action comes just two weeks after Bashir managed to evade arrest. Attending a summit in South Africa, he left Johannesburg in a private jet - despite a national high court order banning him from leaving the country because of the ICC warrant.
Bensouda hailed the decision by the South African court, saying the "warrants of arrest against him are as valid as they were when issued" and "remain in full force and effect".
The UN officials and diplomats believe it unlikely that the Security Council would seek any punitive measures against Sudan, mainly due to possible opposition from Russia and China. Both countries, which wield Security Council vetoes, have large commercial and military interests in Sudan.
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Due to apparent lack of Security Council support, Bensouda announced in December that she had no choice but to "hibernate investigative activities in Darfur" and shift resources to other international cases.
Bashir, who has vehemently denied all charges against him and put the Darfur death toll at 10 000, hailed Bensouda's comments as a sign of surrender by the ICC.
"Let me be clear: my office's determination to bring independent and impartial justice to the people of Sudan remains unshaken," she said on Monday. "Efforts of detractors and naysayers only serve to strengthen our resolve and spur us to double our efforts in this regard."