Earlier this month, Luis Moreno Ocampo, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, addressed the United Nations Security Council (text (pdf), video (real audio player required)), and asked that body to use its authority to get Sudan to put an end to war crimes, and hold the perpetrators accountable.
Despite the fact that the International Criminal Court issued still-active warrants for suspects in May of 2007, the Sudanese Government still rejects their legal obligation to turn in the suspects.
As the article states, ICC suspects Harun and Kushayb “face 51 charges, including murder, rape and forced expulsions” in Darfur, where “200,000 to 300,000 people have died in the conflict … and 2.5 million have been displaced since it began in 2003.”
PHR calls for justice for victims and accountability for perpetrators in Darfur — in addition to demanding the cessation of attacks on innocent civilians by the Sudanese Government. Only with all three of these things is there the possibility of long-term peace and stability.
One of the focuses of the Student Program’s work on Darfur is Justice and Accountability.
In May 2007, the International Criminal Court—the world’s first permanent court to try war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide—released warrants for the arrest of Sudan’s former interior minister, Ahmed Muhammad Haroun, and the Janjaweed militia leader known as Ali Kushayb, for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Sudanese Government has a legal obligation to deliver these two suspects to the Court, which is in The Hague. But Khartoum has not only refused to do so, it has brazenly promoted Haroun to the minister for humanitarian affairs and named him as one of the lead investigators into human rights violations in Darfur—violations that he masterminded and ordered.
Recently, the ICC prosecutor opened a new case on the recent attacks on humanitarian workers and peace keepers. With this announcement, The Court signaled to both the Sudanese Government and the international community that attacks on humanitarian personnel and peace keepers will not go unpunished. Only the court knows the strategy behind the cases, but PHR hopes that the ICC will continue to name suspects and, given the clear involvement of the Sudanese Government in planning and executing the genocide in Darfur, that their indictments of suspects will go up to the highest levels. However, the Court cannot proceed without its suspects, and it does not have the ability to apprehend suspects. Therefore, for the sake of international justice and the rule of law, it is incumbent upon the international community (specifically the Security Council and members of the ICC’s Rome Statute), to demand that Sudan arrest these suspects and transfer them to the ICC for trial.
World leaders will not speak up without pressure from their constituents. Send a letter to the Security Council urging it take stronger steps in enforcing the Sudanese Government’s legal obligation to turn in the criminals.
Join fellow PHR advocates in this important issue of justice and accountability: take action on your campus! We’ve posted resources for taking ongoing action in the Student Chapter Toolbox.
For any questions or ideas for getting involved, you can respond in a comment or send me a private email.
First, I want to thank Meenu Menon for the good work in giving us updates as concerns Darfur. We have a role in our advocacy to highlight the atrocities and campaign against the genocide. However let me dare to ask; can we really define the Darfurian crisis clearly? Why is it that peace agreements are perennially broken? Should all our efforts be mainly concerted to campaigning for these peace-agreements without addressing the underlying and basic etiologies of this conflict? I am of the opinion that these are pertinent questions that can only be answered if we fully understand the origins of the Darfur conflict. This would enable us to further champion our cause and get renewed hope in the campaigns to effect a problem-closure through a lasting peace process.
We know that the immediate problems with Darfur are humanitarian with UN estimates of 400,000 killed and 2 million people displaced since 2003. Then we would ask, what led to this catastrophe? Was it as a result of tribal dynamics that led to competition of local resources or structural inequalities between the central government and the periphery, or could it be attributed to an environmental calamity coupled with fast population growth and eventual desertification? It is possible that all these factors may have contributed to the conflict. The point is an understanding of the geo-political dynamics will aid us in redirecting, augmenting and focusing our campaigns against the real perpetrators. Famous American philosopher John Dewey once said, “A problem well stated is a problem half solved”. Tom Hirshfield put it rightly when he said, “The second assault to the same problem should come from a totally different direction”.
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I want to thank everyone for all of the hard work you’ve done last semester for the Darfur Survival Campaign and tell you how excited I am to collaborate again with you this semester. Despite the very real gains we’ve made—the initial deployment of the joint African Union-United Nations force (UNAMID) and the recent passage of the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act (SADA)—the people of Darfur are still under constant threat. UNAMID is only at a third of its promised size, attacks on civilians are ongoing and peace negotiations are nowhere on the horizon.I’d like you to join me in a very concrete, time-sensitive action: write to President Bush and tell him to use his final State of the Union Address to announce his plan for bringing about a lasting peace in Darfur. He needs to
- get tough with Sudan’s President Bashir and publicly take him to task for obstructing the deployment of the UNAMID force and
- promote inclusive peace negotiations in a neutral African country.
Tell President Bush that peace in Darfur is achievable and that fostering it could be his legacy.President Bush will deliver his final State of the Union on January 28, so the time to act is NOW. Please mobilize your campuses and have people send this letter. If people can’t get online then to send the action, have them call the White House and use these talking points (PDF). We don’t recommend postal letters because mail to the White House always gets delayed in security screening.After this time-sensitive action, we’ll launch our Justice and Accountability portion of the campaign, which aims to promote justice for victims and hold perpetrators accountable for crimes by supporting the International Criminal Court’s case. We look forward to working with you on this critical aspect of bringing peace to Darfur.