[JURIST] Sudan Justice Minister Abdel-Basit Sabdarat said Wednesday that he had named one primary prosecutor and three assistants to investigate and try war crimes suspects from the country's Darfur region [JURIST news archive]. The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] in the Netherlands currently handles such proceedings, but if Sudanese domestic courts are created with appropriate human rights and accountability safeguards, the ICC is required to hand over jurisdiction under Article 16 of the Rome Statute [PDF text]. The announcement is seen largely as a reaction to the controversial effort [JURIST report] to seek an arrest warrant [application, PDF; ICC press release] for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [BBC profile, JURIST news archive]. Both the League of Arab States (LAS) and the African Union (AU) [official websites] have criticized [JURIST report] the warrant and underlying indictment, saying they threaten peace in the unstable country and that Sudan will create its own internationally-monitored courts [JURIST report]. The newly appointed prosecutor will report to the Justice Ministry every month, and if the prosecutor gathers enough evidence against a suspect, he may present the case to a state court. AFP has more. The Sudan Tribune has local coverage.
The LAS released its proposal [press release, in Arabic; JURIST report] for creating the courts in July, following an emergency meeting [JURIST report] to mediate the dispute over the ICC's warrant for al-Bashir. The AU also released a resolution [PDF text] the same month, requesting that the ICC defer to Sudanese courts once they are legitimized. The UN Security Council has repeatedly asked Sudan to comply with the investigation of al-Bashir [JURIST report], but Sudan has refused to do so, calling Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] a "terrorist" [JURIST report] and suggesting that he should be removed from office. Before al-Bashir's indictment the Sudanese government had already rejected the ICC's jurisdiction and refused to surrender two previously-named war crimes suspects [JURIST report].