International court prosecutor tells UN of significant evidence on crimes in Darfur

Given the scale of killings, rape, looting and destruction of villages in Darfur, Sudan, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said today he anticipates the prosecution of a sequence of cases, rather than a single case, of possible war crimes in the conflict between the Khartoum Government, allied militia and rebels.“Identifying those persons with the greatest responsibility for the most serious crimes in Darfur is a key challenge for the investigation,” Luis Moreno-Ocampo said as he presented his latest report to the Security Council this afternoon. “The complexity of the conflict in Darfur exacerbates this challenge, given that it involves multiple parties, varying over time throughout the different states and localities.”The Council referred the matter, along with the names of 51 suspected perpetrators, to the ICC in March 2005, after a UN inquiry into whether genocide occurred in Darfur found the Government responsible for crimes under international law and strongly recommended referring the dossier to the ICC. The probe also found credible evidence that rebel forces were responsible for possible war crimes, including murder of civilians and pillage.So far, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) has been collecting evidence on the ground and from certain countries, but has been hampered by the security situation in Darfur itself.According to the report, the office has been able to document, however, thousands of alleged direct killings of civilians, including “a significant number of large scale massacres, with hundreds of victims in each incident,” targeting specific ethnic groups.“In most of the incidents where the OTP has collected evidence there are eye-witness accounts that the perpetrators made statements reinforcing the targeted nature of the attacks, such as ‘we will kill all the black’ and ‘we will drive you out of this land.’” There was also significant substantiation of thousands of civilians dying as a result of displacement and other hardships due to the conflict, as well as registration of hundreds of alleged cases of rape.Throughout his report, the prosecutor stressed the need for cooperation in order to ensure accountability not only for past crimes, but for present crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction that continued to affect the displaced populations in Darfur. “Our justice efforts should contribute to their protection and to the prevention of further crimes. We need information on groups that continue to attack them or to impede their access to humanitarian assistance,” Mr. Moreno-Ocampo told the Security Council, calling on the UN body to help his Office with obtaining that and other types of information regarding the investigation of the situation in Darfur.