Home | News    Monday 26 March 2012

US requests presence of international monitors at Darfur trials


March 25, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The United States special envoy in charge of Darfur Dane Smith met on Sunday with Sudanese justice minister Mohamed Bushara Dousa and discussed with him the possibility of international monitors attending the Darfur trials.

Dousa highlighted the government’s efforts to achieve justice in Darfur through the Doha document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD).

The Sudanese official said that Khartoum implemented practical steps including the appointment of a special prosecutor, establishment of a special court and ensuring that all those suspected of involvement in war crimes in Darfur are brought to trial stressing that there is no impunity.

He called for supporting the Darfur fund which will be used to protect witnesses in order to achieve justice.

Dousa said that participation of international monitors is included in DDPD but in accordance with special regulations and government’s consent.

Earlier this year Dousa issued a decree appointing a new special prosecutor by the name of Ahmed Abdel-Motalib whose task is to investigate all the alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur since February 2003.

Sudan created the position of a special prosecutor for Darfur in 2003 in order to prove its seriousness in going after the perpetrators of crimes allegedly committed in the course of Khartoum’s war against armed rebels in Darfur.

But the three special prosecutors who occupied this position before have failed to try or bring charges against any individual.

Abdel-Dayem Zumrawi, the 2nd special prosecutor who also held the post of Justice Ministry Undersecretary, resigned abruptly from his post last year citing personal reasons. However, sources told Sudan Tribune that Zumrawi was unhappy by what he thought was too much interference in his work by other government agencies.

The privately owned Al-Sudani newspaper also reported at the time that Zumrawi had difficulty overcoming the issue of immunity in his investigations of several incidents that occurred where mass civilian deaths were alleged including Gereida in South Darfur.

Sudan’s former spy chief Salah Gosh last year criticized the government over the lack of progress in its Darfur war crimes prosecutions.

"Despite the appointment of a general prosecutor for crimes in Darfur and having several cases pending we have not seen them [cases] presented to the courts," Gosh said at the National Assembly during deliberations on a report presented by the justice minister on the performance of his ministry.

He further warned that accusations by the outside world about the inadequacy of the Sudanese legal system, particularly in relation to Darfur, should not be taken lightly.

A year ago the outgoing state minister for justice Bol Lul Wang told Reuters that Khartoum has not conducted serious investigations into Darfur crimes. He also claimed that the Sudanese government has no will to go after suspects because of the high-level position they occupy.

"These people are high figures in the government. The government has no will to pursue or even investigate those people ... It is not serious. Because if it was serious they would not let a man like Haroun hold a ministerial post."

Failure by the Sudanese judiciary to act on Darfur has led the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in March 2005 to refer the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC) after a UN international commission of inquiry concluded that the Sudanese judiciary was unwilling or unable to carry out credible prosecutions in the war ravaged region.

Consequently, the ICC has charged four individuals from the government, including president Omer Hassan al-Bashir, Defense minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein, South Kordofan governor Ahmed Haroun and militia leader Ali Kushayb.

All four face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity but Bashir is also wanted for genocide in connection with claims that he orchestrated a campaign to wipe out the African tribes of Fur, Zaghawa and Masaalit in Darfur.

Darfur’s war broke out in February 2003 after rebel groups took up arms against the government, accusing it of marginalizing the region in terms of development, wealth and power sharing.

In response, the government mobilized its forces and waged a brutal counterinsurgency campaign, leading to the death of 300,000 people and displacement of 2.7 million, according to UN figures.


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