Concerned about the situation in Sudan, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, announced on Thursday that he had opened a war crimes investigation in the country. The deadly conflict between two generals, Abdel Fattah al-Burhane and Mohamed Hamdane Daglo, has already killed nearly 3,000 people.
The escalation of violence in Sudan raises “great concern”. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has therefore decided to open a new investigation for war crimes in Sudan, its prosecutor Karim Khan announced on Thursday 13 July during the presentation of a report to the UN Security Council.
The country has been thrown into chaos for three months due to a conflict between two generals fighting for power.
The court, which sits in The Hague, had already been seized in 2005 by the Security Council over the situation in the Sudanese region of Darfur and had issued an arrest warrant against former leader Omar al-Bashir, including charges of genocide.
“The truth is that we in this Council and around the world – and as we have more and more information – risk allowing history to repeat itself; the same terrible story that led this Council to seize the ICC in 2005 about the situation in Darfur”, launched Karim Khan before the Council.
“The current security situation in Sudan and the escalation of violence during the current hostilities are matters of great concern,” the report said. The prosecution can thus “confirm that it has opened an investigation into the incidents that took place in connection with the current hostilities”.
The report said there has been “a wide range of communications” regarding alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan since the fighting began in April. Alleged sexual and gender-based crimes, “including alleged gang-rape campaigns”, “of particular concern”, are at the center of the new investigation, he added.
A risk of new war crimes
Since April 15, the head of the Sudanese army, Abdel Fattah al-Burhane, a close ally of Egypt, has been at war with his former number two, General Mohamed Hamdane Daglo, who heads the Paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (FSR) .
The conflict over power between the army and the paramilitaries has already left nearly 3,000 dead and three million displaced and refugees, according to the United Nations.
The UN envoy to Sudan, Volker Perthes, now persona non grata in Khartoum, called on the two generals to be “accountable”.
The bodies of at least 87 people believed to have been killed last month in Sudan by paramilitary forces and their allies have been buried in a mass grave in Darfur, the United Nations said Thursday.
According to Karim Khan’s report, the risk of further war crimes is “compounded by the clear and prolonged disregard of their obligations by relevant actors, including the Government of Sudan”.
A lack of justice
Darfur, a large region in western Sudan, has been ravaged by a civil war that started in 2003 between Omar al-Bashir’s Arab majority regime and ethnic minority rebels who denounce discrimination. Omar al-Bashir had sent the Janjawid armed militia against the rebellion, which later gave birth to the FSR.
Omar el-Béchir, 79, as well as the leaders Ahmed Haroun and Abdel Raheem Hussein, have been indicted by the ICC for more than ten years for “genocide” and crimes against humanity during the conflict in Darfur.
The lack of justice for crimes in Darfur in the early 2000s “sowed the seeds for this latest cycle of violence and suffering”, according to Karim Khan. Even before the latest fighting, there was an “even greater deterioration in the cooperation of the Sudanese authorities”, according to its report.
The only person to appear before ICC judges so far is Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman, the former Janjawid militia leader, also known by his alias Ali Kosheib.