SUDAN WATCH: Darfur national Special Court fails-IJT

Monday, June 26, 2006

Darfur national Special Court fails-IJT

International Justice Tribune article (Paris) 26 June 2006:
On June 13, 2005, a week after the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) had announced the opening of an investigation into Darfur, the Sudanese government created a special court with the intention of trying "160 suspects."

In his report to the Security Council one year later, the ICC prosecutor stated, "So far the Special Court has conducted six trials of less than thirty suspects. The cases include four incidents of armed robbery, one incident of receipt of stolen goods, two cases of possession of firearms without a license, one case of intentional wounding, two cases of murder and one case of rape. [...]

The President of the Special Court has stated that no cases involving serious violations of international humanitarian law were ready for trial and that the six cases selected were in fact chosen from the case files lying before the ordinary Courts."

In a report published on June 8, Human Rights Watch counted thirteen cases before the three chambers of the Darfur special court. One of these trials, being held in Nyala, involved the murder of 28 people on October 23, 2005 by Janjawid militias in the village of Tama. However, the three defendants - two border intelligence officers and one civilian - were acquitted of murder and convicted for theft.

The other cases are mostly ordinary criminal matters. According to Human Rights Watch, "Unless there is a reversal of policy on the part of Khartoum and real political will to punish past atrocities and prevent further crimes, the [Special Court on Darfur] will continue to fail to provide any form of accountability or justice for the crimes in Darfur. This failure is all the more stark given that the ICC will only prosecute a limited number of cases and cannot, by itself, provide justice to the thousands of victims of crimes in Darfur."


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