The International Criminal Court (ICC) today issued its first warrants for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s conflict-wracked Darfur region, giving the country’s Government responsibility for the arrest of a Sudanese minister and a militia commander.
The court’s Pre-Trial Chamber I issued warrants of arrest for Ahmad Muhammad Harun, former Minister of State for the Interior of the Government of Sudan and currently Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs, and Janjaweed militia leader Ali Muhammad Al Abd-Al-Rahman, also known as Ali Kushayb.
“As the territorial State, the Government of the Sudan has a legal duty to arrest Ahmad Harun and Ali Kushayb,” ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said, adding, “This is the International Criminal Court’s decision and the Government has to respect it.”
The two men are accused of targeting civilians in attacks on four villages in West Darfur between August 2003 and March 2004, according to the warrant that outlines multiple counts of personal responsibility for murder, pillaging and rape for each.
“In his public speeches, Ahmad Harun not only demonstrated that he knew that the Militia/Janjaweed were attacking civilians and pillaging towns and villages, but also personally encouraging the commission of such illegal acts,” the judges concluded.
It alleges that Ali Kushayb, leader of the Janjaweed in the Wadi Salih, “enlisted fighters, armed, funded and provided supplies to the Militia /Janjaweed under his command thereby intentionally contributing to the commissions of the crimes.”
The Court noted that he “personally participated in some of the attacks against civilians.”
According to the Court, in early 2003, Mr. Harun was appointed head of the “Darfur Security desk,” where his main task was to manage and personally recruit, fund and arm the Janjaweed militia – forces that would ultimately number in the tens of thousands.
The communiqué emphasizes that the case highlights the connection between a high Government figure and a powerful Janjaweed leader, and shows the underlying operational system that enabled massive crimes against civilians who were known not to be involved in the conflict.
The issuance of the warrants comes amid increasing international efforts to stop the bloodshed and improve humanitarian assistance in Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have been killed and at least 2 million others forced to flee their homes since 2003.
Despite numerous recent attacks against relief workers in Darfur, the humanitarian community continues to explore ways to increase its access and resume activities in hard-to-reach areas, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reported today.
The mission said that a key road in West Darfur has been re-opened for humanitarian traffic after being declared a ‘no go’ zone in October 2006, and that efforts are being undertaken to resume operations in other areas of West Darfur that had been plagued by road attacks over the past few months.
Also today, in an effort to further facilitate humanitarian activities, Sudanese Government and UN officials met with representatives of the European Commission, Jordan and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at the Ministry for Humanitarian affairs in Khartoum.