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International Criminal Court finds 'credible' information on grave crimes in Darfur

International Criminal Court finds 'credible' information on grave crimes in Darfur

Luis Moreno-Ocampo briefs the Council
There is a "significant amount of credible information" to show that grave crimes have taken place in Sudan's Darfur region, and every effort will be made to identify those who bear the greatest responsibility, the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) told the United Nations Security Council today.

The 1 June launch of investigations into the two-year-old conflict between the Khartoum Government, allied militia and rebels in Darfur marked an opportunity for all parties to take all possible steps to prevent the continuation of such offences, said ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo, briefing the Council for the first time since The Hague-based Court was established two years ago.

In late March, the Council referred to the Court 51 names of people blamed for war crimes in the fighting, which has killed over 180,000 people and displaced nearly three million, almost two-thirds the entire population of the region, which is roughly the size of France.

Today, Mr. Ocampo said his office had received information showing the killing of thousands of civilians, the widespread destruction and looting of villages, as well as persistent targeting and intimidation of humanitarian personnel. The ICC would identify those bearing the greatest responsibility for the crimes and assess the admissibility of the selected cases.

He said that the protection of victims and witnesses was a major challenge in any conflict situation and that information currently available highlighted the significant security risks facing civilians, as well as local and international personnel in Darfur. Such issues would also present challenges for any genuine investigations, international or national.

To that end, Mr. Ocampo said that all possible steps will be taken to bring the proceedings closer to those affected by the crimes, which might include the establishment of an ICC presence and the conduct of proceedings at places within the region.

In the coming weeks, the Prosecutor's Office would request the cooperation of the Government of Sudan and all other parties to the conflict, as well as the assistance of other States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Mr. Ocampo stressed that additional efforts will be required to bring other offenders to justice and to promote the rule of law and reconciliation – a matter of particular significance in the context of Darfur, which had its own tribal and traditional systems for the promotion of dispute resolution. The Prosecutor's Office would cooperate with and support such efforts, the combination of which would mark a comprehensive response to the need for justice.