Sudan: Those responsible for war crimes must be held accountable

The human rights organisation said that although responsibility for ensuring justice rests primarily with the Sudanese government, the whole international community is obliged to fight impunity through the use of universal jurisdiction.

Amnesty International said:

“Impunity for human rights abuses only breeds further violations. Those who have killed, raped, abducted and forced people from their homes in Darfur knew that others who had committed similar crimes in the Nuba mountains and the south did so with impunity. If those who commit war crimes are never held accountable there will never be peace in Sudan.

“The rape and killings committed by the government-supported ‘Janjawid’ militias in Darfur constitute war crimes. Systematic and widespread killings, rape and forced displacement are crimes against humanity. War crimes and crimes against humanity have also been committed in southern Sudan by all parties to the conflict.”

On 19 June President Omar al-Bashir said on television that he would control and pursue all outlaw groups, such as the Janjawid, and bring them to justice. US Secretary of State Colin Powell, and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan should demand that this is implemented immediately.

During 20 years of war in the south the Sudanese armed forces and militias supported by the government killed, raped and abducted thousands of Sudanese.

At the same time the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), militias allied to the SPLA and independent militias killed and raped with equal impunity.

On 5 June 2004, after two years of negotiations, peace was eventually signed between the government of Sudan and the SPLA. But the protocols which make up the peace accord do not mention accountability for past serious human rights violations.

As the peace negotiations between the Sudanese government and the SPLA limped forward after 2002, the government supported Janjawid militias to attack and displace rural ethnic groups in western Sudan after some members of these groups, complaining of marginalisation and lack of protection, founded a “Sudan Liberation Army”.

Today, one million internally displaced people in Darfur who have fled to camps and swollen the townships in Darfur now face hunger and disease. A further 130,000 people have fled to Chad.

Amnesty International has frequently called for human rights monitors to be deployed in the southern Sudan to investigate allegations of serious human rights violations and for perpetrators of human rights abuses, from whatever side, to be made accountable.

With regard to the conflict in Darfur Amnesty International is calling for:

  • an international Commission of Inquiry to examine evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other violations of international humanitarian law as well as allegations of genocide;
  • the immediate deployment of human rights monitors in Darfur in sufficient numbers and with the requisite resources to investigate and report on serious human rights violations;
  • the disarming and disbanding of the Janjawid militias who must be put in a position where they may no longer abuse the civilian population.

Sudan has signed, but not ratified, the Rome Statute setting up the International Criminal Court.

The new power-sharing government to be set up following the Nairobi peace accord between the government and the SPLA, should ratify the Rome Statute as one of its first acts. This will be a sign to the people of Sudan that the horrific breaches of humanitarian and human rights law which have happened over the past 20 years, will no longer be acceptable.

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