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The ICC commences proceedings regarding war crimes in Darfur

International Criminal Court, The Hague International Criminal Court, The Hague Photo by jbdodane on Flickr

21 May 2021

Human Rights Watch urges Sudan to fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) as proceedings for war crimes in Darfur are about to start.

Victims of the atrocities committed in Darfur between 2003 and 2004 might be one step closer to achieving justice. On 24 May 2021, the ICC will decide whether there is enough evidence to start the trial against Ali Kosheib, the leader of the “Janjaweed” militia responsible for the attacks. The alleged perpetrator voluntarily surrendered on 9 June 2020, 13 years after the ICC issued an arrest warrant, having charged  him with 50 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in several villages in Darfur.  The other four main suspects, including the former Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, are still in the hands of the Sudanese authorities, which are under an international obligation to transfer them into the custody of the ICC.

The Darfur region, located in western Sudan, has been volatile for decades due to continuous tensions between several ethnic groups. The conflict started in 2003 when a civil war erupted between the central government and the Darfur rebels. The insurgent groups, namely the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), demanded socio-economic reforms and a division of power within the country. The Sudanese government, opposing the reforms, was supported  by the “Janjaweed”, the militia of a nomadic Arab tribe. The clashes between the two sides resulted in a brutal civil war that is still ongoing. According to the UN, throughout the duration of the conflict to date,   300,000 people were killed and  2.5 million displaced.

A turning point was in 2019 when the Sudanese transitional government decided to cooperate with the ICC investigation on the alleged war crimes in Darfur. However, until suspects remain under Sudanese control, Sudan remains in breach of its international obligations arising from UN Security Council Resolution 1593.


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Author: Martina Apicella; Editor: Aleksandra Krol

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