Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain

Abdallah Banda's initial appearance at the ICC in June 2010. © ICC-CPI
Commander of the Justice and Equality Movement rebel group in Darfur. Initially cooperative, Banda is now wanted by the ICC for war crimes during attacks on an African Union peacekeeping mission in 2007.
Country
Status
Pre-trial
Regions: 
Africa
Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain, commander of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebel group, is allegedly responsible for war crimes during attacks in 2007 against African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) peacekeepers. Banda initially appeared voluntarily when summoned by the ICC, now has an arrest warrant against him. 
Background

ICC investigates attack on peacekeeping mission in Darfur 

From March 2003 to at least 14 July 2008, an armed conflict existed in Darfur between the Sudanese government and several organised armed groups—in particular the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). In September 2007, the combined troops of a JEM faction (JEM Splinter Group) and two SLA factions allegedly launched an attack against the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) stationed at the Haskanita Military Group Site. 12 peacekeepers were killed and another eight injured as a result of the attack.

Charges

Pre-Trial Chamber issues summonses to appear for Banda 

In August 2009, the ICC summoned Banda to make a voluntary initial appearance in connection to three counts of alleged war crimes: violence to life; intentionally attacking peacekeeping personnel, installations, materials, units, and vehicles; and pillaging. Prosecution witnesses described the JEM splinter group's Banda as the first-in-command during the attack, designing it, providing munitions and vehicles to rebel troops, and leading the actual attack. Banda and other rebel commanders allegedly agreed to the common plan to attack the MSG Haskanita. 

Banda waives right to be present at confirmation of charges  

Banda voluntarily appeared at the ICC in The Hague in June 2010, notifying judges that he would waive his rights to be present during the confirmation of charges hearing, which took place in December 2010. Banda also stated his defence team would not make any presentation or call witnesses during the hearing.  

On 7 March 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber I confirmed the war crimes charges. 

ICC affords peacekeepers protected civilian status under IHL law 

At the confirmation of charges hearing, judges agreed with the ICC prosecutor that AMIS was established in accordance with the UN Charter and as such was entitled to protection in the context of international and internal armed conflicts. The AMIS personnel were assigned civilian status under international humanitarian law (IHL) and their personal effects deemed civilian objects at the time of the rebel attack. The Rome Statute lays out such specific offenses under IHL.

Challenges

Cooperation challenges 

By September 2014, Trial Chamber IV had concluded that Sudan was unwilling to cooperate with the ICC by ensuring Banda’s presence at his November 2014 trial opening. Judges thus vacated the trial opening date and issued an arrest warrant, calling on ICC member states and non-member states alike to cooperate with requests to arrest and surrender fugitives from justice at the ICC. 

ICC charges against two other suspects fall away 

In relation to the attack on AMIS personnel, the ICC prosecutor had requested that the ICC issue arrest warrants, or alternatively, summonses to appear, for Banda as well as for Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus, alleged SLA commander and second-in-command during the Haskanita attack, and Bahar Idriss Abu Garda, alleged chairman of the United Resistance Front. Garda’s case did not advance past the confirmation stage, and while Jerbo’s charges were confirmed alongside Banda’s, proceedings against him were terminated in 2013 following information suggesting he was deceased.

Victims

Victims’ participation and reparation

89 victims were authorized to participate during Banda’s confirmation hearing.103 persons have been authorized to participate in the proceedings overall through a legal representative.