Friday, May 02, 2008

The Darfur War Crimes Test


This week marks a grim and largely unnoticed anniversary. On April 27, 2007, International Criminal Court judges issued arrest warrants for two men involved in the massive, ongoing atrocities in the Darfur region of western Sudan: Former state minister of the interior Ahmed Haroun, and Ali Kushayb, a key leader of the brutal Arab militia known as Janjaweed. Both are charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Evidence in the ICC cases against both men is overwhelming, including numerous eyewitness accounts from victims as well as compelling documentary evidence. Yet Khartoum refuses to extradite or lift a finger in prosecuting either man.

No surprise there. Were Mr. Haroun and Mr. Kushayb to testify in the Hague, where the ICC is based, the most senior members of the Khartoum regime would be at obvious risk of indictment themselves. Mr. Haroun in particular could point far up the military and civilian chain of command.

In a grotesque irony, Mr. Haroun has even been promoted to the position of state minister for humanitarian affairs, with major responsibility for millions of desperate victims of the very crimes he orchestrated.

More than five years have passed since the Khartoum regime and its Janjaweed allies launched their campaign of destruction against the non-Arab populations of Darfur. The savagery of the attacks upon civilians, the torched villages, mass murders, rapes, abductions and mutilations have made the word Darfur synonymous with human suffering. More than 2.5 million people have fled from their burning homes in terror, seeking tenuous refuge in wretched camps across Darfur and eastern Chad.

The ICC is charged with investigating and prosecuting cases in which the national courts of a country cannot or will not render justice even in the face of the most horrific international crimes. The ICC, however, has no police force of its own, and so relies on others to execute its arrest warrants. In the case of Darfur, the ICC arrest warrants derive from a United Nations Security Council resolution. Read more >>>>>>>>

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