U.N. Report Refers Sudanese War Crimes to International Criminal Court
The report released by a U.N.-appointed commission, stopped short of calling the ongoing conflict in western Sudan’s Darfur region genocide but concluded that some individuals may have committed “acts with genocidal intent,” according to a Reuters report.
The commission turned over a sealed list of suspects to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, recommending they be tried by the International Criminal Court.
On Tuesday, members of the Khartoum government called the report unfair and labeled its allegations as incorrect.
“We are going to show that there are some claims which are false and there are some misreadings of some facts in some situations — therefore, as it stands now [the report] is not fair to Sudan,” Ibrahim Ahmed Omar, head of the ruling National Congress Party, told Reuters.
But Omar welcomed the report’s finding that the situation in Darfur did not amount to genocide, a claim the United States made after visits to the region by several key officials including former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Sudan’s Justice Minister Ali Mohamed Osman Yassin said the report was based on “an emotional rather than realistic investigation.”
“There is also no evidence to back up these claims — they are keeping this evidence hidden from us,” he said.
Members of the European Union and the United States have accused Sudan’s government of carrying out systematic attacks against villagers in Darfur and of arming Arab militias, known as the Janjaweed or “horsemen,” to loot and burn their homes.
The conflict has led to a major humanitarian crisis in which more than 70,000 people have died and more than 1.8 million have been forced to flee, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The Sudanese government has rejected the accusations, calling the Janjaweed outlaws but has admitted to arming other militia groups in an effort to stifle an uprising by rebels who accuse the government of neglecting the vast region of Darfur and its limited resources.
Leaders of Sudan’s two main rebel groups also criticized the U.N. report. They faulted the report for its failure to term the conflict “genocide.”
“If this report says there is no genocide in Darfur then we reject [it],” Justice and Equality Movement leader Khalil Ibrahim told Reuters in a telephone call from his headquarters in Eritrea.
“There are hundreds of mass graves that the commission did not go to,” he added.
Abdel Wahed Mohamed al-Nur, leader of the Sudan’s main rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Movement welcomed the notion of prosecutions for war crimes despite the U.N. claim that some rebels may have been responsible for the crimes.
“I hope that anyone and everyone who is accused of committing a war crime will be brought to court,” he told Reuters.
On Sunday, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said violations against humanity had been committed in Darfur and should be punished. He restated that the U.N. Security Council still has the option of imposing sanctions on the Sudanese government though some members of the Council are against it.