Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain

19.04.2016 ( Last modified: 13.06.2016 )
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facts

Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain (“Banda”) was born in Wai, Dar Kobe, in North Darfur. His date of birth is unknown but it is believed to be around 1963. He is a member of the Zaghawa tribe of Sudan. Currently, he is the Commander-in-Chief of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) Collective-Leadership, which is one of the components of the United Resistance Front.

On 29 September 2007, an attack against the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) was carried out by splinter forces of the JEM, together with troops belonging to the Sudanese Liberation Army-Unity (SLA-Unity), which had broken away from the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A). The AMIS was a peace-keeping mission stationed at the Haskanita Military Group Site (MGS Haskanita) in the locality of Umm Kadada in North Darfur, Sudan.

Allegedly, the approximately 1,000 attackers, who were armed with anti-aircraft guns, artillery guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, killed 12 AMIS soldiers and severely wounded eight others. In addition, they allegedly destroyed communication facilities, vehicles, computers and other goods which belonged to the AMIS.

Banda was allegedly in command of the JEM splinter forces during this attack. The Pre-Trial Chamber I of the ICC considers there are sufficient grounds to believe there was a non-international armed conflict in Dafur between the Government of Sudan and several organized armed groups, including the JEM and the SLM/A.

The ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I issued Banda a summons to appear on 27 August 2009 for war crimes allegedly committed during the attack of 29 September 2007 against the AMIS.

legal procedure

The ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I issued Banda a summons to appear on 27 August 2009 for war crimes allegedly committed during the attack of 29 September 2007 against the AMIS.

Banda appeared voluntarily before the Court for his initial hearing on 17 June 2010 together with Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus “Jerbo” (see “cases related”).

The Pre-Trial Chamber I has determined that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Banda and Jerbo are criminally responsible as co-perpetrators or as an indirect co-perpetrators of three counts of war crimes under article 25(3)(a) of the Rome Statute:

– violence to life in the form of murder, whether committed or attempted;

– intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in a peacekeeping mission; and

– pillaging.

On 8 December 2010, the Chamber held the hearing on the confirmation of the charges in the absence of Saleh Jerbo (see “cases related”) and Abdallah Banda who, on 4 and 15 November, respectively, waived their rights to be present at that hearing.

On 7 March 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the ICC unanimously decided to confirm the charges of war crimes brought by the ICC’s Prosecutor against Abdallah Banda and Saleh Jerbo, and committed them to trial.

On 16 March 2011, the Presidency of the International Criminal Court constituted Trial Chamber IV, which is composed of Judge Fatoumata Dembele Diarra, Judge Joyce Aluoch (presiding) and Judge Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi. On 6 March 2013, Trial Chamber IV set the provisional start of the trial for 5 May 2014.

On 4 October 2013, Trial Chamber IV terminated proceedings without prejudice against Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus after receiving evidence pointing towards his death.

On 16 April 2014, the Trial Chamber decided to vacate the date of 5 May 2014 scheduled for the opening of the trial due to “logistical difficulties”. The Chamber set 6 May 2014 as the deadline for additional submissions of the Prosecution and the Registry.

On 14 July 2014, the Trial Chamber IV scheduled Banda’s trial to start on 18 November 2014.

On 11 September 2014, Trial Chamber IV by majority, Judge Eboe-Osuji dissenting, issued an arrest warrant to ensure Banda’s appearance at trial. This was in order to facilitate his position to do so as the Government of Sudan remained uncooperative and there was thus no guarantee he would voluntarily appear before the Court. The ICC Registry was therefore directed to transmit new requests for cooperation in the arrest and surrender of Banda to States including Sudan. The Chamber by majority vacated the trial date of 18 November 2014 suspending preliminary actions until Banda’s arrest or voluntary appearance.

Banda appealed the decision of the Trial Chamber to replace the summons to appear by an arrest warrant, arguing that he should have been allowed to make further submissions during the proceedings. On 3 March 2015, the Chamber rejected the appeal, and confirmed the arrest warrant.

context

The conflict in the western Sudanese province of Darfur began in 2003 as tensions surrounding the use of land and water resources exploded between the sedentary tribes (Four, Masalit and Zaghawa, for example) and the nomadic Arab tribes. Two armed rebel groups were created to fight for additional rights for the disadvantaged tribes of African origins. The Sudanese government reacted with massive military operations and by supporting and arming the nomadic Arab militia, the Janjaweed (also known as “Fursan,” “Moujahadeen” and “Bashmerga”) in order to combat these rebels. This led to extremely violent violations of human rights as well as numerous attacks on civilian populations and targets. The report of the United Nations investigative commission on Darfur, published in January 2005, as well as those of numerous NGOs testify to the occurrence of mass executions, mass rapes, the expulsion of the civilian population, the destruction of villages by the Janjaweed, some with the direct support of the Sudanese government, but all with at least its tacit approval. Both sides of the conflict have mainly attacked civilians. It is estimated that 300,000 people have lost their lives since the beginning of the conflict and that more than 2.7 millions have been displaced. During 2008, there were more than 315,000 new internally displaced people and refuges in Eastern Chad.

After a number of unsuccessful negotiations, a peace accord was finally signed on May 5, 2006 in Nigeria with the help of the African Union between the Sudanese government and one of the rebel groups, Minni Minnawi’s Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA). Part of the SLA, led by Abdul Wahid, as well as Khalil Ibrahim’s Justice and Equality Movement refused to sign on to the accord at first, but finally ratified it in June 2006.

However, the situation in Darfur quickly unravelled after the signature of the peace treaty: the rebel groups who had not participated in the accord organized themselves into the National Redemption Front (NRF) and attacked an army stronghold in July 2006. The government responded by sending additional troops to the Darfur region in August of the same year. This led to more violent attacks against civilians by both sides.

Even measures taken by the international community have not succeeded in helping the situation. African Union troops stationed in the Sudnan since the end of August 2006 (AMIS) have not been able to stop the massacres and have themselves been under attack. Through resolution 1706 (2006), the United Nations Security Council authorized the transfer of UN troops (UNMIS) to the region. The Sudanese government refused this movement of personnel. By November 2006, African Union and UN troops joined forces in a hybrid mission which is still in Sudan today.

United Nations’ Security Council resolution 1593 (2005) compelled the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to investigate alleged crimes in the Sudan. This was not well receives in Khartoum. In fact, Sudanese authorities have refused to comply with the ICC’s investigtion even following injunctions to do so by this court. Although the Sudan has not ratified the Rome Statute, it is obliged to comply with the ICC because resolution 1593 was adopted under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter. The day after the investigation began at the ICC, the Sudanese government created the Special Criminal Court on the Events in Darfur. A Human Rights Watch report published in June 2006 claimed that this parallel special court was created solely to derail the ICC investigation by abusing the principle of complimentarity enshrined in Article 17 of the Rome Statute.