SUDAN WATCH: Darfur genocide investigation may land in the International Criminal Court that US opposes

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Darfur genocide investigation may land in the International Criminal Court that US opposes

A report in the Wall Street Journal Jan 17 says that the Bush administration in its effort to help Darfur, may soon may be forced to choose between prosecuting the perpetrators and continuing to shun the International Criminal Court.

Congressman Frank Wolf, a Virginia Republican who is co-chairman of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, says it may present the best way to seek justice for Darfur. "If the commission recommends sanctions, a weapons embargo and a travel ban on suspected perpetrators, and with it was a referral to the International Criminal Court, frankly I would take the deal and go," Mr. Wolf says. "It would be better than doing nothing." Full Story.

Further reading: "Human Rights: New Flood Tide" - an interesting opinion piece by Jonathan Power at Arab News Jan 17 says "this could become an explosive issue within the Bush administration."

Also, see Amnesty International report Jan 18, 2005: "Sudan: Who will answer for the crimes?"
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U.N. envoy flies to southern Sudan to discuss UN troops

According to an AP report Jan 18, UN envoy Jan Pronk is travelling to southern Sudan today with a UN force commander, a legal adviser and a political affairs officer. They will meet with SPLM rebel leaders to hammer out details of a UN troops for the monitoring of the peace agreement. The report says Pronk is pressing rebels to authorise UN troops to carry weapons, and to enter and leave the region without applying for permit. Kofi Annan is to submit a report on the matter to the Security Council later this week.

UPDATE: Can you believe this? A large UN peacekeeping force to monitor the southern Sudan peace agreement was agreed last May. Today, the BBC says an international force of almost 10,000 could be deployed in southern Sudan by August after last week's peace deal. Repeat: August. In six months time. Some will start arriving in March - in two months time.

If there is no sense of urgency to give the historic peace accord every chance of succeeding, what hope is there for Darfur? Full Story.
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Darfur and the Completion of the Naivasha Negotiating Process:
Khartoum's genocidal ambitions continue unchecked despite Nairobi signing

Please read two great new essays by Sudan expert, Prof Eric Reeves, Jan 14 titled "Darfur and the Naivasha Peace Process - Part 1 and Part 2".

It was a relief for me to see somebody thinking along the same lines as myself and daring to use emotive words that I have shied away from using, for fear of coming across as too emotive and alarmist. Dr Reeves' reports pull together most of the news reports I have pointed to here in this blog.

Dissapointingly though, he does not say what he thinks we should do about what has NOT been done by the international community. What I mean to say is, he points out what is needed, and explains how much of it has not been done, but does not give any clues as to the reasons why they have not been done.

Simply advising us to contact politicians is no good. We the people, after months of lobbying, have already proved that contacting politicians does not help. Of course, it does apply pressure, creates noise and a flurry of lightweight media reports, but at the end of the day it does not convert into REAL action from politicians. We, the people, have tried every trick in the book to get politicians to act on Darfur but it has not worked. Wouldn't you like to know why? I believe we deserve an explanation. There has to be more to what is going than meets the eye.

Here's a wild thought: what if politicians assigned with special responsibility for Sudan do not get their countries to take the action that is needed for Darfur as outlined in Dr Reeves' report Part 1 -- could we the people take up a case against those responsible for their government's inaction. They said "never again". They can't deny they know what is going on in Daruf. Could we bring them to Court to explain their negligence?

I vaguely recall there being some sort of law against people standing by and watching someone suffer and die. For instance, at the scene of an road accident, mugging or whatever: if you happen upon someone suffering and just stand and watch them dying without helping, then you can be prosecuted.

We need to do something that is quick and effective to get the attention of politicians. If there was a way of getting a case against them, like when people sued oil companies for ignoring human rights abuses, can we the people not bring the same sort of case against our governments?

If a law exists here in Britain (like failing to stop at the scene of an accident, or a social worker failing to provide adequate security for someone at risk) does a similar but international law exist that would enable the public to prosecute politicians for failing to provide security for aid workers and publicly funded aid?

And why won't the UN release updated figures on the death toll. The figure of 70,000 has remained static for the past three months. If they don't have the figures, how do they know how many to cater for when they ask for huge tranches of funding?

Not a week goes by when I don't wonder about the actual number of people in Darfur. Last Summer I wrote a post saying the population of Darfur appears to be somewhere between 6 - 6.5 million. Recently, a Sudanese official was quoted as saying the population of Darfur is 5 million. Where are all the people? 200,000 are in refugee camps in Chad. UN figures vary - they say 1.83 - 2.3 million are affected by the conflict in Darfur. Where are the other 3 million in Darfur? What are they doing? How are they managing?

Please read both of Prof Reeves' essays. Not to be missed if you want an accurate overview of the situation in Darfur. Here is an extract is from the final paragraph of Part 2:
GENOCIDE - Contrary to the claims made by Human Rights Watch---that "debating the definition of atrocities in Darfur has detracted from a key issue: action by the international community" in halting the violence and bringing the culpable to justice --- what is fundamental is international failure to marshal the moral and intellectual resources, the necessary courage, and the military means to halt what is clearly genocide by attrition. This leaves us with the disgraceful spectacle of a world wringing its hands, mooting politically impossible UN responses, and failing to protect civilians and humanitarian operations in Darfur. As the catastrophe continues to deepen, responsibility widens commensurately.


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