Global Policy Forum

ICC Prosecutor to Open Two New Darfur Cases


By Claudia Parsons

December 4, 2007

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court plans to open two new cases in Sudan over attacks on humanitarian workers and peacekeepers in Darfur, a U.N. spokeswoman said on Tuesday. The ICC, which aims to try crimes that national governments cannot or will not, had previously issued only seven arrest warrants: four in Uganda, one in Democratic Republic of Congo and two in Sudan over events in Darfur.

Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo issued arrest warrants in February for Ahmad Haroun, a former Sudanese state minister of interior, and Ali Kushayb, a Janjaweed militia leader, for mass executions, rapes and forcible evictions. Sudan has refused to hand them over and appointed Haroun to a committee to investigate human rights abuses in Darfur. U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said Moreno-Ocampo would open two new cases as part of a probe into atrocities in Darfur started at the request of the U.N. Security Council. "The prosecutor did not identify new potential suspects but said the new cases will relate to attacks on humanitarian workers and peacekeepers, such as the Haskanita incident," Montas told a news conference at U.N. headquarters. She was referring to an attack that killed 10 African Union peacekeepers in the eastern Darfur town of Haskanita in late September. A preliminary U.N. report indicated the attack was carried out by rebels using vehicles marked with the letters JEM, standing for the Justice and Equality Movement. JEM, a powerful rebel group, has denied any involvement.

The underfunded and overstretched AU force has struggled to protect itself amid rising tribal violence and rebel attacks. Aid workers have also increasingly come under attack. Aid groups told visiting U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes this month of a series of incidents in the four months since a U.N. resolution was passed authorizing 26,000 U.N.-AU peacekeepers to deploy to Darfur to take over from the existing AU force. Five aid workers have been shot and wounded, 34 temporarily abducted or physically or sexually assaulted, three truck drivers contracted to transport aid killed and humanitarian compounds raided 18 times, the groups said in a statement. They told Holmes there were also 61 vehicle hijackings. Moreno-Ocampo is due to brief the U.N. Security Council on his investigation in Darfur on Wednesday.

Human Rights Watch urged the Council on Tuesday to press Sudan to fulfill its obligations and hand over the two suspects already indicted by the ICC. "The Security Council made a commitment to justice for the victims of Darfur when it referred the situation there to the International Criminal Court prosecutor," said Richard Dicker, an attorney with HRW. "With two arrest warrants, the rubber has hit the road and the council must now insist on arrests. Failing to do so would betray the people of Darfur and make a mockery of the council's own actions," he said in a statement.

Sudan denies the court has jurisdiction over the cases.

Editing by David Wiessler.

More Information on International Justice
More Information on the ICC in the Security Council
More Information on the ICC Investigations in Darfur
More Information on the ICC


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