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Accountability For Perpetrators Of Darfur Genocide

U.S. Wants Accountability for Perpetrators of Darfur Genocide; Will Study Case Against Sudan's Bashir Despite Not Being An Icc Member

Washington, 14 July 2008 -- Following the International Criminal Court's (ICC) decision to charge Sudanese President Omar El-Bashir with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity over his government's alleged actions in Darfur, the United States says it will closely examine the charges and supports holding individuals accountable for their crimes in the region.

"[T]he United States has been at the forefront of holding those responsible for genocide accountable, whether those individuals are from the government or from rebel groups or other groups," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said July 14.

The United States is not a signatory to the Treaty of Rome that created the ICC due to concerns that the court would become a venue for politically motivated prosecutions. However, McCormack said the Bush administration will examine the ICC's case against Bashir.

"We are constantly looking at what information we have on our own that might help hold accountable those individuals responsible for genocide or other atrocities," he said. He added that he expects the United Nations Security Council will continue to follow the issue.

The spokesman said despite the fact that the United States is not a member of the ICC, it will consider responding to information requests from the court, explaining it as "the fulfillment of our obligations as we see them." (See "State's Legal Expert Reiterates U.S. Devotion to International Law.")

He said there had been a recent request from the ICC for information on Darfur that is already under consideration, but that request "is not related to the request for warrants against President Bashir today."

Seeking Accountability For Atrocities In Darfur

Since 2004, the United States has described what has taken place in Darfur as genocide. Then Secretary of State Colin Powell cited "a consistent and widespread pattern of atrocities" such as killings, rapes, and the burning of villages committed by Jingaweit militia and government forces against Darfur's non-Arab villagers.

"[W]e concluded that genocide has been committed in Darfur and that the government of Sudan and the Jingaweit bear responsibility -- and genocide may still be occurring," Powell told the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in September 2004. (See "Powell Reports Sudan Responsible for Genocide in Darfur.")

Speaking to reporters July 14, McCormack said "make no mistake, we are on the side of accountability" concerning the atrocities in Darfur.

Asked if the ICC charges against Bashir could provoke a backlash against the hybrid African Union-United Nations peacekeeping force in the country, McCormack said, "it certainly is a possibility," and added that U.S. personnel in the country have taken security precautions in the wake of the indictments.

The spokesman called for restraint and said there are "public statements coming from the government in Khartoum that give worry to some parties operating in Sudan."

"[W]e need to reiterate ... that violence serves no party's purpose and that we would urge restraint on all sides and not turn to violence for a means of coercion," he said.

Fighting among armed groups has kept Darfur in a state of humanitarian emergency for more than four years. The United Nations estimates that more than 200,000 people have died in Darfur since 2003. Close to 2 million others were displaced into refugee camps in the region and in eastern Chad.

The United States is the largest bilateral donor to Sudan and has provided more than $3 billion in humanitarian, peacekeeping and development assistance to the people of Sudan and Eastern Chad since 2005, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development. It also is providing funds and materials to support the joint United Nations–African Union peacekeeping force.

ENDS

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