Darfur and the International Criminal Court: Grave Crimes

The United Nations Security Council has taken some belated measures to stop the violence in Darfur, but its response has been woefully inadequate. Prosecution of those responsible could make a real difference. Given the gravity of the crimes and the Sudanese government’s unwillingness to act, investigation and prosecution by the International Criminal Court could hold the key.

The World Today Updated 12 November 2020 Published 1 January 2005 3 minute READ

Elise Keppler

Counsel, International Justice Programme, Human Rights Watch

The atrocities in Darfur have been unspeakable. the Janjaweed militias, with the active backing and participation of Sudanese government forces, have looted, raped and massacred. As part of an ethnic cleansing campaign, they have burnt villages and committed crimes against humanity. More than one and a half million people have been forced from their homes.

Because Sudan has not ratified the International Criminal Court treaty, a special Security Council referral would be needed in the case of Darfur. Such a referral could well encounter the opposition of the United States, which loathes the Court. But it was created to address just these kinds of serious crimes. If the Court is kept out of the Security Council debate out of fear of the ire of the US, it could threaten to make the Court itself seem irrelevant when referrals are needed in years to come.

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