Rights group slams Sudan probe on Darfur crimes

A leading human rights group on Tuesday slammed Sudanese investigations into Darfur atrocities as “window dressing” and a flagrant attempt to derail legal cases being built by the world court.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) spoke out one week after local officials said a special Sudanese prosecutor, investigating alleged crimes in Darfur, ruled there were grounds to try an Arab militia leader who was backed by the state.

“The Sudanese government is putting up more window dressing as part of its ongoing effort to block the investigations of the International Criminal Court [ICC],” said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at HRW.

“No one should be fooled by these moves,” she added.

On July 14, the ICC prosecutor accused Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir of ordering his forces to annihilate three non-Arab groups in Darfur, masterminding murder, torture, pillage and the use of rape to commit genocide.

A panel of judges is deciding whether to issue an arrest warrant against al-Bashir.

Sudan refuses to recognise the ICC and is campaigning to persuade the United Nations Security Council to freeze possible international proceedings against al-Bashir. Part of the campaign has been to insist on the effectiveness of its courts.

But credible trials in Sudan for alleged rights abuses in Darfur, which would see the ICC drop its charges, have failed to emerge.

Sudan appointed its special Darfur prosecutor three weeks after ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo moved against the president.

This month, justice officials said the prosecutor completed an investigation into allegations against Ali Kosheib, a militia commander who has been wanted by the ICC since 2007 for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Kosheib’s first trial was indefinitely suspended in March 2007.

Sudan has not said what charges he could face in a second trial. Sudanese criminal law does not include crimes against humanity or genocide.

“Even if the government were serious about prosecuting Kosheib, limitations in Sudanese law mean that he could not be tried for the full range of crimes ...
that have been committed in Darfur,” said Gagnon.

Another Sudanese facing an ICC arrest warrant, Cabinet Minister Ahmed Haroun, was briefly detained but released last October for lack of evidence.—AFP

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