The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for two suspected Sudanese war criminals, marking the first time people involved with the violence in Darfur have faced sanction from the world’s criminal court.
Current Sudanese state minister for humanitarian affairs Ahmad Harun and notorious Janjawid militia leader Ali Kushayb face 51 counts of alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes between them, which include murder, persecution, the destruction of property, rape and torture.
Director of the Africa Programme at Amnesty International Erwin van der Borght said: “The decision by the ICC indicates an important step forward in how the international community will deal with Sudan over the gross human rights violations taking place in Darfur.
“It’s no longer seen to be enough to just conduct political negotiations over strengthening the current peacekeeping force in Darfur and to further peace talks. Concrete steps must also be taken immediately to hold people to account for the crimes being perpetrated.”
Kushayb is thought to be currently in detention in Darfur awaiting trial, although there is little confidence internationally that the Sudanese government is able or willing to prosecute him effectively.
Non-governmental organisations including Amnesty are pressing the Sudanese government to surrender him to the ICC in the Hague, the Netherlands. They are also pushing for the UN Mission in Sudan and the African Union to arrest Harun for the same outcome.
Amnesty also called on the Sudanese government to investigate and prosecute other war crimes and crimes against humanity not presently prosecuted by the ICC prosecutor and to ensure that victims and their families are able to obtain reparations.
Van der Borght added: “Seeking justice for the people of Darfur now will not hinder the continuing search for a political solution – it will only serve to make that solution, when it’s found, more durable.”