International Press Release by Aegis Trust / Justice for the World
Senior legal figures from Darfur and the international community today urged the UN Security Council (UNSC) to confront Sudan over its refusal to hand over two suspected war criminals to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Together, Ahmad Harun and Ali Kushayb are wanted for over 92 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur.
For example in Bindisi, West Darfur, it is alleged that Harun and Kushayb organised the murder of civilians, the rape of women and girls, the destruction of the mosque, and the forced expulsion of 34,000 people. The Sudanese Government has refused to prosecute such crimes, forcing the UNSC to refer Darfur to the ICC three years ago today (March 31st). Without pressure from the UN Security Council it is unlikely that the ICC can bring suspects to justice for the massive crimes committed in Darfur.
In an open letter the signatories called for the UNSC to visit Khartoum to insist that the suspects be handed over for trial at the International Criminal Court, freeze the assets of the Sudanese Government officials protecting the two suspects, and issue a strong presidential statement in June in response to the next report by the ICC prosecutor.
The signatories expressed outrage that, "despite his indictment, Ahmad Harun has continued working for the Government of Sudan and now serves as the Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs and currently oversees humanitarian efforts throughout the country. He has been appointed to co-chair a committee charged with investigating human rights complaints and liaises with the UNAMID peacekeeping force in Darfur. It is reported that Ali Kushayb has been appointed to the Humanitarian Affairs Committee. Thus, the chief suspects in an investigation into mass atrocities in Darfur are now responsible for the fate of the survivors." Last year, the Government of Sudan responded to the indictments for these suspected crimes by publicly threatening to behead any person attempting to arrest Ahmad Harun or Ali Kushayb.*
Nick Donovan, Head of Campaigns at the Aegis Trust said, "We're now in the second phase of Khartoum's planned solution to their Darfur problem. Ahmad Harun allegedly organised the first phase of violence - where non-Arab civilians were murdered or deliberately herded into an archipelago of refugee camps. He's now in charge during this second phase - where these camps are surrounded, their inhabitants attacked, and their food, water and security are turned on and off at his whim. This man should be in court, not in charge of the victims of his own suspected crimes."
The signatories include: Carla del Ponte and Richard Goldstone, former Chief Prosecutors for the International Criminal Tribunal in Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal in Rwanda; Henry King, Prosecutor in Nuremberg; Femi Falana, the President of the West African Bar Association; David M Crane, Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, The Hon. Irwin Cotler, former Justice Minister of Canada; Salih Mahmoud Osman, Darfuri winner of the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize; Abdelrhman M. Gasim, Mohamed Abdalla Eldoma, and Elsadig Ali Hassan of the Darfur Bar Association, Lord Falconer, former UK Secretary of State for Justice, and Héctor Diaz-Bastien Lopez, Union Internationale des Avocats.
Note for editors
1.a. Contact (Europe - UK) Nick Donovan at Aegis Trust for more information;
or +44 207 613 5258 or (cell) +44 7990 555 756
1.b. The original text of this press release is published at Aegis Trust.
1.c. This press release is supported and distributed to the media in The Netherlands by Justice for the World. It is published at our website http://www.justicefortheworld.org and will be distributed to our newsletter subscribers, volunteers and online members.
2. Fifty four international organisations have come together to push the UN Security Council to act against the impunity currently reigning in Sudan. Their website, which has been moved to the website of Aegis, now being a project called "Wanted for War Crimes", seeks to see both suspects face trial in The Hague.
Participants include Aegis Trust (UK), Centre for International Human Rights Studies (Egypt), Center for Peace (Croatia), Society for Threatened Peoples (Switzerland), Physicians for Human Rights (USA), Collectif Urgence Darfour (France), Waging Peace (UK), Japanese for Darfur (Japan), Human Rights First (USA), IDP Action (UK), Italians for Darfur (Italy), Darfur Australia Network (Australia), Polska dla Darfuru (Poland), Sudan Organisation Against Torture (UK, Sudan), Investors Against Genocide (USA), Americans Against the Darfur Genocide (USA), Enough Project (USA), STAND Canada (Canada), Independent Advocacy Project (Nigeria), RADDHO (Senegal), Prepared Society (Kenya), UN Watch (Switzerland), Bahrain Society for Public Freedom and Democracy Watch (Bahrain), Darfur Union (UK), Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur (USA), People Against Injustice - PAIN (Gambia), SERAP (Nigeria), STAND USA, Land Centre for Human Rights (Egypt), Darfur Consortium (Rwanda), League of Human Rights (Czech Republic), Global Grassroots (Rwanda), Sudan Divestment UK, Genocide Intervention Network (USA), Amnesty International Ghana, Gulf Centre for Democratic Development (UK), ICC Student Network (UK), Stop Genocide Now (USA) GATS (US) Sudan Divestment (USA), Save Darfur Canada, Minority Rights Group (UK), Dream for Darfur (USA), American Jewish Committee (USA), Kimathi Peacenet (Kenya), Justice for the World (Netherlands), Coast Legal Aid and Resource Foundation (Kenya) Arab Program for Human Rights Activists (Egypt), American Islamic Congress (US), Fonte di Speranza (Italy), Society for Threatened Peoples (Germany), Sauver le Darfour (France).
3. The full text of the letter is as follows:
It is almost one year since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants for Ahmad Harun and Ali Kushayb, who together are wanted for 92 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. For instance, in Bindisi it is alleged that they organised the murder of civilians, the rape of women and girls, the destruction of the mosque, and the forced expulsion of 34,000 people.
The Government of Sudan's non-compliance with the arrest warrants is clear. Despite his indictment, Ahmad Harun has continued working for the Government of Sudan and now serves as the Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs and currently oversees humanitarian efforts throughout the country. He has been appointed to co-chair a committee charged with investigating human rights complaints and liaises with the United Nations peacekeeping force in Darfur. It is also reported that Ali Kushayb has been appointed to the Humanitarian Affairs Committee. Thus, the chief suspects in an investigation into mass atrocities in Darfur are now responsible for the fate of the survivors.
The Government of Sudan has no serious intention to investigate past or ongoing crimes in Darfur. Three years ago, UN Security Council Resolution 1593 referred the case of Darfur to the ICC in order to uphold international law and combat impunity. The resolution placed all states under a legal obligation to comply with the ICC's investigation and any subsequent prosecution. The challenge for the international community, embodied in the UN Security Council, is to fulfil the promise of the law, to enforce judicial decisions, and to ensure the arrest of sought individuals.
We urge the UN Security Council to issue a strong Presidential Statement in response to the ICC prosecutor's next report to the Security Council in June, to visit Khartoum at the earliest possible opportunity to demand that the suspects are handed to the ICC, and to take the strongest possible measures, such as the freezing of personal assets, against Sudanese Government officials harbouring suspects and those who continue to commit international crimes in Darfur.