Sudan: Government cannot guarantee justice, investigation should be referred to ICC

The report calls on the UN Security Council to act instead, and to refer the situation in all of Sudan to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. It comes in the run up to the UN Commission of Inquiry report to the UN Security Council next week (25 January) on whether genocide has occurred in Darfur.

The report, Sudan: Who will answer for the crimes?, details human rights crimes committed by the Sudanese armed forces, their proxy militias and southern armed opposition groups throughout the Southern civil war, where two million people have died and four million people have been forced from their homes.

These have included massacres and rapes, abductions and the recruitment of child soldiers. The report notes that the peace agreement (signed 9 January 2005) is silent on these abuses, and makes no commitment to provide justice for victims.

The report also examines the ongoing crisis in Darfur, where abuses similar in scale and gravity to those in the South have been committed, and finds again that there has been no serious attempt by the Sudanese authorities to bring anyone to justice.

The report concludes that the UN Commission of Inquiry, which will report back to the UN Security Council next week (25 January) on whether genocide has occurred, is the first serious attempt to investigate grave crimes under international human rights and humanitarian law in Sudan.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

"There can be no lasting peace in Sudan unless there is justice for the victims of these serious human rights crimes.

"Justice is essential in order to ensure that survivors receive redress and recognition for what they have suffered; to avoid the risk of people seeking revenge and taking justice into their own hands, and to send a clear signal that such crimes will not be tolerated and will not be allowed to happen in the future.

"The international community must support Sudan in bringing investigations and prosecutions about through the ICC, and through reform on the Sudanese justice system."

Because the International Criminal Court could, however, only try a handful of those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity, Amnesty international is also calling on the international community to support a comprehensive reform of the Sudanese justice system.

It might also consider supporting the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as demanded by civil society in the South, which could help acknowledge past abuses and help victims come to terms with their trauma. This measure, however, must not be a substitute for legal accountability for the most serious crimes committed.

Background

A Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), to end the 21-year civil war in Sudan between the central government and the main armed group (SPLM/A) in the South, was signed on 9 January 2005. The protocols and agreements which form the CPA are silent on the gross abuses committed during the conflict, many of which constitute crimes under international law.

In Darfur, the west of the country, the conflict is continuing today with civilians being targeted and displaced. An international Commission of Inquiry has been mandated by the UN Security Council "to investigate reports of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law by all parties, to determine whether or not acts of genocide have occurred, and to identify the perpetrators of such violations with a view to ensure that those responsible are held accountable".

The Commission is due to report to the UN Security Council by 25 January 2005.

Read the report online

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