Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Darfur: Is the war over or is the world losing interest?

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A girl holds her sleeping brother in Zam Zam camp in Darfur, Sudan in June 2008. REUTERS/Louis CharbonneauIt’s more than six years since mostly non-Arab rebels in Sudan’s western Darfur region revolted after accusing Khartoum of neglecting their remote corner of Africa’s biggest country. Khartoum’s U.N. ambassador, Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem, declared in New York this week that the “war in Darfur is over.”

But Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, disagrees. Although levels of violence in Darfur have fallen, he told the Security Council that crimes “are continuing.” He said those crimes include indiscriminate bombings of civilians, creation of inhumane conditions for displaced people in order to “exterminate” them, rapes and sexual violence, and the use of child soldiers.

The ICC has already issued arrest warrants for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, another government official and a former Janjaweed militia leader for war crimes in a government-led counter-insurgency campaign that drove more than 2 million from their homes. The United Nations says as many as 300,000 people have died since the conflict erupted in 2003, but Khartoum rejects that figure.

The ICC has also charged three rebels in connection with an attack on African Union peacekeepers in 2007. One rebel showed up in The Hague to defend himself but Bashir and the others remain at large. Western diplomats say Bashir’s arrest is not a top priority now since it could destroy the stalled Darfur peace process. Khartoum refuses to cooperate with the ICC and its chief prosecutor, whom Abdalhaleem branded a “mercenary of death and destruction.” (Moreno-Ocampo countered by declaring that Sudanese officials who deny that crimes were committed in Darfur could themselves face prosecution.)

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his latest report to the Security Council that U.N./African Union peacekeepers in Darfur were being harassed and threatened by Sudanese government forces and rebels. (As if to illustrate the point, two Rwandan peacekeepers were shot dead in an ambush in North Darfur on Friday.) Ban said that civilians in Darfur remain at risk of violence as the Sudanese military continues to clash with rebel groups. The world body has also warned that the population of Darfur may be left out of next year’s nationwide elections, the first in 24 years, due to mass displacement of the population and volatile security.

But Khartoum and the rebels determined to topple Bashir’s government may not be the only problem. The former head of a U.N. panel charged with investigating violations of a 2005 arms embargo for Darfur accused the United States and other members of the Security Council of “selling out” the Darfur sanctions.

from Africa News blog:

Putting Africa on trial?

Look down the list of the cases the International Criminal Court is pursuing – Congo, Central African Republic, Darfur, Uganda – and it doesn’t take long to spot the connection.

Of the dozen arrest warrants the court has issued, all have been against African rebels or officials. On Monday, the court begins its first trial - of Thomas Lubanga, accused of recruiting child soldiers to wage a gruesome ethnic war in northeastern Congo. Earlier this month, former Congolese rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba was in court for a decision on whether to confirm charges of ordering mass rape to terrorise civilians in the Central African Republic.

from Africa News blog:

Congo: Step forward or back to the past?

Rwanda sent hundreds of its soldiers into eastern Congo on Tuesday in what the neighbours have described as a joint operation against Hutu rebels who have been at the heart of 15 years of conflict. Details are still somewhat sketchy, with Rwanda saying its soldiers are under Congolese command but Kinshasa saying Kigali’s men have come as observers.

Evidence on the ground suggests something more serious. United Nations peacekeepers and diplomats have said up to 2,000 Rwandan soldiers crossed into Congo. A Reuters reporter saw hundreds of heavily armed troops wearing Rwandan flag patches moving into Congo north of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province. The world’s largest U.N. peacekeeping mission is, for now, being kept out of the loop.

Bashir’s challenge to the ICC – can the court respond?

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bashir-in-istanbul.jpgInternational prosecutors’ pursuit of Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for alleged genocide has not curtailed his travel schedule. He is in Turkey this week, defiant and saying the move by the International Criminal Court has backfired — his hold on power is stronger than ever.

Bashir gave an exclusive interview to Reuters, his first since ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said he was seeking a warrant for his arrest.

Turn of the screwdriver – genocide, justice or peace for Darfur?

Girl at Zam Zam camp in North Darfur holds her sleeping brother

Sudan’s ambassador to the United Nations Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem says Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, is “a screwdriver in the workshop of double standards” for seeking to prosecute the president of Sudan, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, for genocide in Darfur.  He rejects the term genocide and says the prosecutor is unfairly picking on Africa’s largest country and ignoring war crimes elsewhere.

Moreno-Ocampo accuses Bashir of launching a genocide campaign in 2003 that was intended to wipe out three ethnic groups in Darfur, a desolate and remote region of western Sudan where oil was discovered in 2005. He says the Sudanese leader used mass murder, rape, deportation and “slow death” by starvation and disease to kill tens of thousands in Darfur.  Moreno-Ocampo wants the ICC judges to issue an international arrest warrant for Bashir.

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