ICC prosecutor: Sudan may face more Darfur charges
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Sudan may face more charges for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said Thursday.
Fatou Bensouda told the U.N. Security Council that crimes continue to be committed under Sudan's "government-avowed goal of stopping the rebellion in Darfur."
She said the incidents under investigation include bombings and bombardments, the blocking of distribution of humanitarian aid and "direct attacks on civilian populations."
More than 300,000 people have been killed in the Darfur conflict since rebels took up arms against the central government nearly 10 years ago, accusing it of discrimination and neglect. Violence has tapered off, but clashes continue.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and several other Sudanese leaders already face arrest warrants from the court. Al-Bashir, whose country is not a member of the court, has traveled extensively since he was indicted by the court in 2009 and again in 2010 for crimes including genocide and extermination in Darfur.
Security Council ambassadors urged renewed efforts to arrest al-Bashir and bring him to trial, along with several others.
"The failure of the government of Sudan to implement the five arrest warrants seems symbolic of its ongoing commitment to a military solution in Darfur, which has translated into a strategy aimed at attacking civilian populations over the last 10 years, with tragic results," Bensouda told the council.
Sudan's Ambassador Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman dismissed much of the violence in Bensouda's report, attributing it to traditional tribal clashes, and said the court was pursuing a heavy-handed political persecution of Sudan.
Other Sudanese who face ICC arrest warrants include militia leader Ali Kushayb, Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs Ahmed Harun and Interior Minister Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein.
"It should be clear to this council that the government of Sudan is neither prepared to hand over the suspects nor to prosecute them for their crimes," Bensouda said.
The International Criminal Court was founded in 2002 as the permanent successor to numerous war crimes tribunals set up over the past two decades.
Also Thursday, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice tweeted that she was "gravely concerned" about a new Human Rights Watch report "that Sudan is killing civilians with improvised barrel bombs filled with nails & jagged metal." The report concerns Southern Kordofan, which borders Darfur, and Blue Nile province, further east, the areas where active combat broke out last year.
"The bombs used by Sudan are unguided and often dropped from Antonov cargo planes or high-flying jets in a manner that cannot meaningfully distinguish between soldiers and civilians," Human Rights Watch reported. "In Blue Nile in particular, Human Rights Watch found evidence of the use of barrel bombs, which are crude, improvised devices filled with nails and other jagged pieces of metal that become deadly projectiles upon impact."
On the Web: Human Rights Watch's report on Sudan bombing: