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Ban urges Sudan to cooperate with prosecutors probing Darfur war crimes

Ban urges Sudan to cooperate with prosecutors probing Darfur war crimes

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged Sudan to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) to ensure justice for the victims of crimes committed in the war-torn Darfur region after the Court’s Prosecutor reported that the country is “deliberately” attacking civilians.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban said he was “deeply concerned about the reported lack of cooperation” of the Sudanese Government with prosecutors at the ICC, which is based in The Hague.

“There can be no sustainable peace without justice,” the statement said. “Peace and justice go hand in hand. Impunity for the serious crimes committed in Darfur cannot be accepted.”

A Security Council resolution from 2005 requires Sudan to fully cooperate with the ICC and obliges the country to arrest and surrender those indicted by the Court.

In his address to the Council earlier today, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo issued a strong warning that without increased assistance from the international community people in Darfur will be “eliminated.”

Addressing an open meeting of the 15-member body, he said that “citizens from the Sudan are being deliberately attacked by Sudanese officials…. The entire Darfur region is a crime scene. Despite promises and denials, over the last five years, millions of civilians have been targeted by officials who vowed to protect them. Impunity reigns.”

Despite arrest warrants being issued last April for Ahmad Harun, former Sudanese Minister of State for the Interior and now the Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs, and Ali Kushayb, a leader of a pro-Government Janjaweed militia, the two men – accused of committing war crimes – have yet to be apprehended.

“The Sudanese Government tolerates the firefighters and promotes the arsonists at the same time,” the Prosecutor said, calling on both the international community and the Council to widen efforts to bring the two men to justice.

“The Council must make publicly clear that the two fugitive indictees and those who protect them will not benefit from any lenience, any support from the international committee,” he told the debate, which included more than one dozen speakers.

This year alone, the Janjaweed, who are “integrated into the Sudanese security apparatus and stationed in the vicinity of camps,” have forced over 100,000 people from their homes using “systematic” attacks – including rapes and land usurpation.

He also voiced concern over attacks against peacekeepers and aid workers in Darfur, where more than 2.7 million people have become displaced since 2003 because of the fighting between rebels, Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen and another 300,000 people are estimated to have died through combat, disease, malnutrition or reduced life expectancy.

The Prosecutor informed the Council that he will present a second case to the Court next month. It will concern “the use of the entire state apparatus for the past five years to attack the civilian population in Darfur,” he told journalists after the Council meeting.