The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) today welcomed the decision of the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to start proceedings against a senior government official and the head of a government-allied militia for war crimes and crimes against humanity alleged to have been committed under their command at the height of the government-led counterinsurgency campaign in Darfur in 2003 and 2004.
The Prosecutor presented evidence earlier today against Ahmad Muhammad Harun, former State Minister of the Interior and current State Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, and militia leader Ali Kushayb, implicating the two in the commission of 51 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including: attacks on noncombatants, summary executions, arbitrary detentions, torture, and the use of rape as a weapon of war.
“The Prosecutor’s decision to target both a chief planner and primary implementer of some of the worst episodes of violence in the Darfur crisis finally addresses the scandal of rampant impunity in Darfur,” said Suliman Baldo, deputy director of the ICTJ’s Middle East and North Africa Program and an expert on Sudan.
The ICTJ considers this a crucial step toward holding accountable those bearing the greatest responsibility and preventing future violations from recurring. The Center hopes that this application will be followed by further investigations and indictments of individuals on all sides of the conflict believed to be most responsible for both past and ongoing mass atrocities.
The ICTJ calls on the government of the Sudan to fully comply with the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision and grant ICC investigators full access to the country and the Darfur region. The government should also refrain from any intimidation or attacks against those it suspects of cooperating with the ICC investigation.
The ICTJ urges the Government of Sudan and the rebels in Darfur to cease immediately all attacks against civilians and humanitarian workers, and called on all parties to the conflict to cooperate with the ongoing ICC investigation.
The ICTJ calls on the ICC to continue and broaden its prosecutorial efforts in a timely manner by pursuing investigations of individuals bearing other responsibilities and from all sides of the conflict and, in so doing, to take all necessary measures to protect victims and witnesses.
To read a summary of the Chief Prosecutor’s Application to the ICC, click here.
Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo opened the investigation in June 2005, following UN Security Council Resolution 1593 referring the Darfur situation to the ICC. Despite the Sudanese Government's stated rejection of ICC jurisdiction, the Prosecutor’s submission to the Court of suspects’ names and the evidence against them is a significant step toward fighting impunity and mitigating violence in one of the world’s most devastating conflicts.
The crimes alleged to have been committed under the command of the two suspects named today were part of a government-led counterinsurgency campaign in Darfur in 2003 and 2004. That campaign was characterized by ethnically-targeted, indiscriminate attacks against unarmed civilians in which an estimated 200,000 people lost their lives either from direct violence or as a result of forced displacement. Two-and-a-half million survivors fled to camps, where they were reduced to depending on relief handouts.
About the ICTJ
The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) assists countries pursuing accountability for past mass atrocity or human rights abuse. The Center works in societies emerging from repressive rule or armed conflict, as well as in established democracies where historical injustices or systemic abuse remain unresolved.
In order to promote justice, peace, and reconciliation, government officials and nongovernmental advocates are likely to consider a variety of transitional justice approaches including both judicial and nonjudicial responses to human rights crimes. The ICTJ assists in the development of integrated, comprehensive, and localized approaches to transitional justice comprising five key elements: prosecuting perpetrators, documenting and acknowledging violations through non-judicial means such as truth commissions, reforming abusive institutions, providing reparations to victims, and facilitating reconciliation processes.
The Center is committed to building local capacity and generally strengthening the emerging field of transitional justice, and works closely with organizations and experts around the world to do so. By working in the field through local languages, the ICTJ provides comparative information, legal and policy analysis, documentation, and strategic research to justice and truth-seeking institutions, nongovernmental organizations, governments and others. For more information, please see our website: www.ictj.org