Human Rights Watch, 17 May 2009
(New York) – The decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to summon a rebel leader allegedly responsible for the killing of African Union peacekeeping forces in Darfur underscores the gravity of attacks against those deployed to protect civilians, Human Rights Watch said today. Rebel commander Bahar Idriss Abu Garda is expected to appear voluntarily before ICC judges tomorrow to respond to the summons.
Bahar Idriss Abu Garda has been charged with war crimes stemming from an assault on an African Union base in Haskanita, South Darfur, Sudan on September 30, 2007 that killed 12 peacekeepers and civilian police officers from the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS). At least eight others were seriously wounded. Abu Garda will be the first person to appear in relation to the ICC’s Darfur investigation since it was opened in June 2005.
“This case signals the seriousness of deliberately attacking peacekeepers who are defending civilians,” said Richard Dicker, International Justice Program director at Human Rights Watch. “We welcome Bahar Idriss Abu Garda’s appearance at the court, which contrasts starkly with the Sudanese government’s relentless obstruction of justice to the victims in Darfur.”
The Rome Statute of the ICC allows the pretrial chamber to issue a summons to appear rather than an arrest warrant if the judges are satisfied that a summons is sufficient to ensure that the person will appear before the court. The ICC prosecutor made a request for a summons to appear in February 2009.