Ten years ago today, on March 31, 2005, the UN Security Council referred the case of Darfur to the International Criminal Court. Today, these atrocities that were supposed to end are at their highest levels since the height of the genocide.
Last year alone, nearly half-a-million people were newly displaced in Darfur. The latest UN reports on displacement confirm at least 40,000 new displacements so far in 2015 with an additional 60,000 reported but not yet confirmed. This adds to both the estimated 3 million people displaced in Darfur in the last decade and the last publicized UN estimates of deaths of 200,000-300,000 people.
The same perpetrators of violence at the start of the genocide in 2003-2004 are behind the escalating mass violence against innocent civilians today. Leading these systematic assaults is Sudan’s President Bashir, who is wanted for seven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes and three counts of genocide by the International Criminal Court.
He’s not alone. Bashir’s Defense Minister Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein faces 21 counts of war crimes and 20 counts of crimes against humanity, including recruiting, arming, and funding the infamous Janjaweed militia.
Yet, all these men remain free.
But the lack of action by the United States and the UNSC has made the investigations and documentation of Bashir’s crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s Chief Prosecutor futile. In her most recent report, Fatou Bensouda told the Security Council: “Given this Council’s lack of foresight on what should happen in Darfur, I am left with no choice but to hibernate investigative activities in Darfur.”
ICC judges issued a decision on March 9, 2015 referring the case back to the UN Security Council noting that, “if there is no follow up action on the part of the SC, any referral by the Council to the ICC under Chapter VII of the UN Charter would never achieve its ultimate goal, namely, to put an end to impunity. Accordingly, any such referral would become futile.”
For the sake of the more than 300,000 victims of Bashir’s attacks and the millions suffering under his policies today, the current lack of accountability needs to change.
Today, United to End Genocide was pleased to join 78 Sudanese and international humanitarian and human rights organizations sent a letter (full text below) to the UN Security Council demanding action:
“The failure of the UN Security Council to support the decision made 10 years ago today to combat impunity in Sudan has contributed to the loss of thousands of lives in Sudan, South Sudan, and around the world.
We have reached a critical moment in history and we urge you, for the sake of humanity, to uphold justice in Sudan.
In particular, the Security Council should:
Reaffirm your support of the ICC’s investigations in Darfur by actively pursuing the arrests of indicted war criminals and encouraging the Chief Prosecutor, Madame Bensouda, to reopen the court’s investigations.”
The traditional 10th anniversary gift is tin. So far the UN Security Council has given President Bashir the gift of tin ears. But it is not too late to mitigate the suffering and counter the mounting violence and impunity.
The 11th anniversary gift is steel. By standing behind the ICC and holding those responsible for the Darfur genocide accountable perhaps President Bashir will be brought to justice wearing steel handcuffs. That will be an anniversary worth celebrating.
The United States should be leading the international charge for peace and accountability in Sudan. You can help right now by calling on the U.S. to demand immediate action at the UN to protect the people of Darfur.