Friday, December 14, 2012

Statement to the United Nations Security Council on the situation in Darfur, the Sudan, pursuant to UNSCR 1593 (2005)

Statement to the United Nations Security Council on the situation in Darfur, the Sudan, pursuant to UNSCR 1593 (2005)
Mr President,
I am briefing you as the second Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to address the situation of Darfur, in the Sudan, which this Council referred to my Office through Resolution 1593 in 2005. This is my Office’s sixteenth briefing to the Security Council on the subject of Darfur.
2. The situation in Darfur continues to be of serious concern to me and to my Office. In my report, I have indicated specific incidents of concern and which seem to represent an ongoing pattern of crimes committed pursuant to the Government-avowed goal of stopping the rebellion in Darfur. I must reiterate that these alleged ongoing crimes, similar to those already considered by the Judges of the International Criminal Court on five separate applications, may constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. My Office will consider whether further investigations and additional applications for arrest warrants are necessary to address ongoing crimes, including those undertaken with the aim of thwarting delivery of humanitarian aid, attacks on UNAMID peacekeepers as well as bombardments and other direct attacks on civilian populations. The words of the Government of Sudan representatives, promising further peace initiatives, are undermined by actions on the ground that show an ongoing commitment to crimes against civilians as a solution to the Government’s problems in Darfur.
3. This Council should be even more concerned about the situation in Darfur, given that crimes continue to be committed, including by those already indicted by the Court. This Council referred the situation in Darfur because of its firm belief that the justice process is an essential component of any strategy aimed at truly stopping ongoing crimes and achieving peace in Darfur. We have always believed the referral to be a joint endeavour by this Council and the Court to contribute to lasting peace in Darfur through investigation and prosecution of those who bear the greatest responsibility for the most serious crimes. Indeed, in this and other contexts, this Council has reaffirmed the vital importance of promoting justice and the rule of law, including respect for human rights, as an indispensable element for lasting peace. My Office and the Court as a whole have done their part in executing the mandate given by this Council in accordance with the Rome Statute. The question that remains to be answered is how many more civilians must be killed, injured and displaced for this Council to be spurred into doing its part?
4. There are no words to properly express the frustration of Darfur’s victims, which we share, about lack of any meaningful progress towards arresting those indicted by the Court. The failure of the Government of the Sudan to implement the five arrest warrants seems symbolic of its ongoing commitment to a military solution in Darfur, which has translated into a strategy aimed at attacking civilian populations over the last ten years, with tragic results. Victims of Darfur crimes can hardly wait for the day that fragmentation and indecision will be replaced by decisive, concrete and tangible actions they expect from this Council.
5. Investigating the Darfur situation was an enormous challenge for the Office and a huge sacrifice for the witnesses and victims whose lives remain at risk as a result of their interaction with the Court. The question they ask is: were their sacrifices in vain?
Mr President,
6. In its Resolution 2063, this Council expressed concerns about ongoing impunity and the lack of any progress on national proceedings to date, after nearly eight years of reported efforts on the part of the Government of Sudan authorities. It should be clear to this Council that the Government of Sudan is neither prepared to hand over the suspects nor to prosecute them for their crimes.
7. Despite the challenges we faced, including non-cooperation by the Government of Sudan, the Office conducted independent and impartial investigations and submitted its evidence to the Judges. Contrary to the often-repeated allegations of bias and politicization of the Office’s investigative activities, the Judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber independently evaluated the evidence to determine whether there were reasonable grounds to believe that particular individuals bore individual criminal responsibility for these crimes. Having considered all the evidence, the Judges concluded that Government of Sudan forces committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur, following a strategy adopted at the highest echelons of the State apparatus. The findings on genocide, moreover, were entered following a ruling by the five member bench of the Appeals Chamber. The Pre-Trial Chamber identified the individuals that must face justice and issued arrest warrants for a Militia/Janjaweed leader, Ali Kushayb, who reported to the then Minister of State for the Interior, Ahmed Harun, who in turn reported to the then Minister of the Interior Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein, who reported to President Al Bashir. Their responsibility is not a mere consequence of their official roles. In all of these cases there are witnesses that describe in detail their active participation in the strategy to commit crimes as well as in the execution of that strategy.
Mr President,
8. The Judges of the ICC have formally communicated six times to the Council without any response. This includes a 25 May 2010 decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber, informing this Council about the lack of cooperation by the Republic of Sudan, in particular in the Harun and Kushayb case; two 27 August 2010 decisions of the Pre-Trial Chamber informing this Council and the Rome Statute Assembly of States Parties about President Al Bashir’s visit to Chad and of his presence in the territory of the Republic of Kenya; the 12 May 2011 decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber informing this Council and the Rome Statute Assembly of States Parties about his visit to Djibouti; the 12 December 2011 decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber pursuant to Article 87(7) of the Rome Statute on the failure of the Republic of Malawi to comply with the cooperation requests issued by the Court with respect to the arrest and surrender of President Al Bashir; and the 13 December 2011 decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber pursuant to Article 87(7) of the Rome Statute on the failure by the Republic of Chad to comply with the cooperation requests issued by the Court with respect to the arrest and surrender of President Al Bashir.
Mr President,
9. My Office and I personally remain committed to working with regional organizations endeavouring to contribute to a comprehensive solution, including the League of Arab States and the African Union. The recommendations of the African Union High-Level Panel on Darfur will be one among other points for discussion that I intend to raise in my interactions with former President Mbeki and the African Union Commission Chairperson, Madame Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. The recommendations of the African Union High-Level Panel on justice, if implemented, would go a long way toward addressing the challenge of the deliberate imposition and tolerance of impunity not only in Darfur, but in the Sudan as a whole. My Office undertakes this interaction with the African Union on its justice recommendations pursuant to its policy of positive complementarity.
Mr President,
10. Investigating the Darfur situation remains an enormous challenge for the Office. Despite these challenges, we managed to conduct full investigations that have led to five arrest warrants (two against the same individual) and three summonses to appear. Good progress has been made towards the start of the trial for two of the three individuals accused of war crimes in the rebel attack on the African Union peacekeeping base at Haskanita, North Darfur. I expect that trial to begin in 2013, although the defence has asked for its postponement until 2014. The investigation and preparation for this trial have involved unique challenges, including the translation of all materials for the defence into Zaghawa, a tribal language with no written form. This work demonstrates the commitment of the Office and the Court to a fair trial.
11. I look forward to the opportunity to present to the Judges the substantial and voluminous evidence gathered in the other four cases, following the arrest and surrender of the four individuals sought by the Court. This is an essential step towards delivering justice for Darfur’s victims. I believe it will also shed light on the obstacles facing other international processes, such as those endeavouring to bring relief to the victims through delivery of humanitarian aid or the conduct of a peace process that aims to be principled and substantive. The justice process is an essential component of any strategy aimed at truly stopping ongoing crimes, by publicly exposing to the highest independent judicial standards the reasons why and how these crimes have been committed; who has been responsible for them; and how they must be stopped.
Mr President,
12. I have been encouraged of late by my participation in discussions with Rome Statute States Parties and others aimed at galvanizing action to ensure greater cooperation in the Darfur and other Council referred situations, including through implementation of outstanding arrest warrants. I am committed to working with both States Parties and Non-States Parties, inside and outside of the Security Council, to push these processes forward.
Thank you.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sudan must end violent repression of student protests

Sudan must end its violent repression of demonstrations, Amnesty International said in the wake of a week of unrest that saw many protesters arrested or injured.

Nationwide protests were sparked by the death of four Darfuri students in Jazeera state following a peaceful student sit-in at their university on 3 December. The four had been arrested by National Security Service (NSS) officers and were later found dead in a canal near the university. 

Police continued to use excessive force this week in Khartoum during protests denouncing the death of the students and calling for the government to be replaced. Protesters were beaten and dispersed with tear gas, while scores were arrested.

"Sudanese security services have clearly used excessive force since the first peaceful murmurings of dissent at last week's student sit-in," said Amnesty International's Audrey Gaughran.

"The authorities must stop the repression of those participating in peaceful demonstrations, and respect the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression."

The four students found dead were among 53 arrested by National Security Service (NSS) officers on 3 December during a peaceful sit-in at Al Jazeera University.

The circumstances of their deaths are still unclear; however, they are believed to be linked with the students’ involvement in the protests.

The four bodies reportedly bore signs of beatings, suggesting torture or ill-treatment. Witnesses told Amnesty International the bodies bore signs of bleeding on their heads, and one on the shoulder.

The Sudanese Minister of Justice has pledged to establish a commission of inquiry to investigate the death of the four students. However, in the past the Government of Sudan has failed to conduct impartial investigations into serious human rights violations.

"The authorities must ensure that any investigation into the recent student deaths is impartial and transparent," said Audrey Gaughran. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 

Witnesses: 10 Sudan students arrested after clashes involving troubled Darfur region

KHARTOUM, Sudan — Sudanese police arrested at least 10 university students on Wednesday following days of unrest in the capital, witnesses said.
The students were arrested early Wednesday morning at Omdurman Islamic University in Khartoum, witnesses told The Associated Press. This followed clashes the day before between students from war-wracked Darfur and pro-Islamist students. A fire broke out in a dormitory building.

The incident is the latest in weeks of turmoil rocking Sudan since the government implemented austerity measures, setting off protests and government crackdowns.
Amnesty International said Wednesday that the Sudanese government “must end its violent repression of demonstrations.” The group said in a statement that many protesters have been arrested or injured.
“The response to the recent protests is deeply troubling,” said Audrey Gaughran of Amnesty International. With reports that some protesters are planning to return to the streets, “it is vital that the Sudanese authorities’ repressive methods are curtailed before more people are harmed,” she said.
The arrests came after four days of protests in the capital over the deaths of four students from a university in central Sudan this month. The students, from Darfur, were protesting over their university’s refusal to let them register for classes without paying full tuition. A peace deal the government signed in 2006 exempted students from Darfur from paying tuition fees. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Growing Violence in Darfur Deserves Honest Reporting, Not More Flatulent UN Nonsense

Growing Violence in Darfur Deserves Honest Reporting, Not More Flatulent UN Nonsense”
UN and UNAMID leadership, including Acting JSR for UNAMID Aichatou Mindaoudou, the UN High Commission for Human Rights, the UN Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Displaced Persons—all seem content to paper over Darfur’s rapidly deteriorating humanitarian and security crisis with unctuous words and feckless declarations. In place of meaningful responses to this desperate situation, they offer anodyne pronouncements, glib “proposals” without substance or detail, and silence on key issues of human security—preeminently rape, widespread murder, violence in the camps and towns, and the ongoing appropriation of arable land by Arab militia groups, often by violent means. In the absence of reporting by international news organizations, and given the denial of all access for human rights investigators—now for many years—Darfuris have made Radio Dabanga their voice. That voice, reporting largely on the basis of eyewitness accounts, deserves all possible amplification.
Eric Reeves
30 November 2012
Events have finally compelled the UN and the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) to acknowledge that violence is escalating in Darfur, a sharp reversal of the self-congratulatory statements by the likes of former heads of UNAMID Rodolphe Adada and Ibrahim Gambari.  For example, Gambari recently celebrated his retirement as UNAMID Joint Special Representative (JSR) by declaring that he was “gratified to note that barely 31 months on, all the objectives I set out to meet have largely been met.” But of course this is despicably dishonest and self-serving, given the dramatic increase in the level of violence, vast human displacement, and the deterioration of humanitarian access and resources that accelerated under Gambari’s tenure.  UNAMID—with an unforgiveable belatedness—now acknowledges some of these realities, although with a deeply disingenuous timeline.  UNAMID leaders and spokespersons would have us believe that this sharp upswing in violence is quite recent; in fact, it has been accelerating dramatically since late 2010.
I and others have chronicled the massive evidence of increasing violence in Darfur since late fall 2010, when Minni Minawi defected from the regime in Khartoum.  Minawi was the only rebel signatory to the disastrous Darfur Peace Agreement (Abuja, Nigeria, May 2006) and belatedly rues his decision.  For not only was he completely marginalized within the regime, his defection from the figurehead position he occupied has made his Zaghawa people the target of ethnic violence that is almost completely unreported by UNAMID or any other source.  Fortunately—at least for the sake of any historical account—Claudio Gramizzi and Jérôme Tubiana have provided a remarkably full overview of this violence in a report from the Small Arms Survey (Geneva): “Forgotten Darfur: Old Tactics and New Players,” (July 2012).  Their report is based on field research conducted from October 2011 through June 2012, and supplemented by extensive interviews, a full desk review of available reports, and a wide range of communication with regional and international actors.  The opening paragraphs in their Executive Summary gives a sense of what UNAMID chooses not to see:
“Since 2010 Darfur has all but vanished from the international agenda. The Sudanese government has claimed that major armed conflict is essentially over, that armed violence of all kinds has declined significantly, and that such violence is now dominated by criminality rather than by military confrontation [ ]. This view has been bolstered by statements from the leadership of the joint United Nations–African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur and by those invested in the under-subscribed 2011 Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, who have hailed declining violence and wider regional transformations as conducive to a final resolution of the conflict [citation of statements by Ibrahim Gambari]. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>