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Special Court On Darfur Crimes Not Satisfactory

Sudan’s Special Court On Darfur Crimes Not Satisfactory, UN Genocide Expert Says

A United Nations genocide expert today voiced disappointment in the efforts of Sudan’s Government to address the crimes committed in the country’s western Darfur region, where conflict has been marked by massive displacement, rights abuses and widespread killings.

The UN Security Council has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to probe the situation, but earlier this week, the Sudanese Government indicated that it would not cooperate with the ICC.

Speaking to reporters in New York, Juan Mendez, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, pointed out that this was not an option but a legal obligation. “I have consistently stressed that ensuring accountability is an essential element of genocide prevention,” said Mr. Mendez, who visited Darfur in September.

Asked whether the Government was living up to its pledges, he replied: “My impression is very discouraging, quite frankly. For months nothing was done about the literally hundreds of cases of destruction of villages.”

He said the Government’s own special court had also produced “discouraging” results. “They have dealt with some cases that seem to be marginal to the serious events that happened in 2003 and 2004,” he said.

He added that if the Khartoum Government refuses to cooperate with the ICC then “the Security Council should take appropriate action.”

During his visit to Sudan in September, he said, he expected to see a more stable situation. “Unfortunately, the situation that I found was of great concern.” He cited a “significant disconnect” between the account of the Government on its actions to address the situation in Darfur and those of the region’s people.

Mr. Mendez also reported on his visit to Côte d’Ivoire earlier this month, where he witnessed significant tensions which posed a risk of massive human rights violations based on ethnicity, religion or national origin.

In response, he called for measures to address the issue, including starting disarmament, holding legitimate elections, and strengthening the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI).

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