Africa Action, a Washington-based organisation, Tuesday applauded the International Criminal Court’s call to prosecute Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir for crimes against humanity and genocide against civilians in Darfur, saying the pending issuance of an ICC warrant for Bashir could provide the UN Security Council with vital leverage on Khartoum.
The notion that, in this case, the pursuit of justice will scuttle a peace process for Darfur is misguided, Africa Action said.
It said ICC’s effort was a step the rest of the international community should emulate as both a refreshing opportunity to impose consequences on those most responsible for genocide and a pressure point to promote civilian protection and fresh peace negotiations.
On Monday, ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked ICC judges to charge the Sudanese President with 10 counts of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide for the violence against civilians in
“The people of Darfur are strongly supportive of holding those responsible for genocide and crimes against humanity accountable, and the ICC is the only mechanism capable of fulfilling that role at this time,” Gerald LeMelle, executive director of Africa Action, said in a statement.
“That Khartoum may use this announcement as an excuse to clamp down on humanitarian operations or wreak new atrocities on its own people just underscores the importance of a strong, comprehensive and coordinated response by the different actors in the international community to the Sudanese crises.”
LeMelle said the panel of ICC judges must consider Moreno-Ocampo’s request before any arrest warrant was actually issued, noting that this provides a window of up to several months for the UN Security Council to decide whether it should support the indictment.
“While many actors, including rebels, have committed atrocities during the Darfur conflict and must be held accountable, it is the government of Sudan that continues to bear the largest responsibility for the current humanitarian crisis and the gravest human rights abuses,” Michael Swigert, Africa Action’s associate director for policy and communications, stated.
“Last week’s militia attack in government-controlled territory that killed seven UNAMID peacekeepers accentuates this point,” he added.
Africa Action is engaged in advocacy and activism to stop the genocide in Darfur.