Sudan on Tuesday approved a draft bill allowing the East African country to join the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court.
The decision by the Cabinet to join the Rome Statute is a step forward in the long-waited trial of suspects wanted for war crimes and genocide in the Darfur conflict, including former President Omar al-Bashir.
Sudan has been led by a joint military-civilian government since a popular uprising led to the military’s overthrow of al-Bashir in April 2019. That transitional government, which promised democratic reforms, has previously said that war crime suspects including al-Bashir would be tried before the ICC, but the trial venue is a matter for negotiations with The Hague-based court.
Samantha Power, who wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning book on genocide and now leads the US Agency for International Development, hailed the decision as “BIG news” on Twitter.
“A revolution for “Freedom, Peace & Justice” just took a key step toward ending impunity,” Power, who is on a visit to Sudan, wrote. She was referring to the uprising that led to al-Bashir’s ouster.
In late May, former ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda visited Darfur and pressed Sudanese officials to hand over al-Bashir and other wanted leaders.
Last year, alleged senior Janjaweed militia leader Ali Kushayb, who was wanted by the ICC, surrendered to the court.
ICC judges said in July he will be the first suspect to be tried over the Darfur conflict on multiple counts of rape, murder, and torture.