For Immediate Release
Today, as prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) named two Sudanese war crimes suspects, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) calls for deployment of a robust peacekeeping force to prevent ongoing atrocities in the "world’s largest crime scene” and to protect the millions of Darfurians who witness new crimes every day. The research and advocacy group welcomes the ICC’s actions and calls for the Government of Sudan (GoS) to arrest and deliver to The Hague Ahmad Muhammed Harun, former junior Interior Minister for Darfur, and Ali Kushayb, a Janjaweed militia leader. If the GoS fails to arrest and extradite Harun and Kushayb to the ICC, the international community must do everything in its power to bring them to justice, the group said.
"Even as the ICC names its first two war crimes suspects, the Khartoum Government and its proxy militias continue with impunity their campaign of mass rape and attacks on the lives, homes, and livelihoods of Darfur’s civilians,” stated Susannah Sirkin, Deputy Director of PHR. "Darfur is the world’s largest crime scene, and its people are both witnesses to, and victims of, new atrocities on a daily basis. Justice for the victims includes prosecution, protection, prevention of further crimes, and restoration of their devastated communities and livelihoods.”
PHR’s documentation from the field is consistent with the information released by the ICC prosecutors today. In its 2006 report, "Darfur—Assault on Survival,” PHR investigators found credible evidence of the clear coordination between Janjaweed militia and GoS forces in their attacks on civilians as today’s ICC statement alleges. PHR’s several investigations in the region conducted between 2004 and 2005 focused on the systematic destruction of civilian livelihoods and assets in Darfur, including wells, homes, crops, and livestock. For example, PHR teams spoke to refugees at the Djabal camp in Chad who had fled from the town of Bendisi, which was sacked and destroyed by militia forces under the command of Ali Kushayb, an attack cited in today’s statement from the ICC.
"The evidence presented at the ICC today decisively contradicts President Bashir’s assertion that his government does not control the Janjaweed, and is therefore not responsible for the atrocities they commit,” said Sirkin. "The prosecutors confirmed today what field investigators and researchers have known for years—the Government of Sudan has directly aided, abetted and commanded the Janjaweed militia’s campaign of murder, rape, and destruction. The chain of responsibility must be pursued to the highest levels.”
PHR calls on the United States to share all relevant information and intelligence with the Court that might assist with its prosecutions. This includes, among other materials, satellite images of destroyed villages taken by the US Office of National Reconnaissance and signals intelligence from the US intelligence community.
For over 15 years, PHR has documented war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide through medical, public health and forensic investigations, and supported international efforts to bring perpetrators to justice, including in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone. PHR supports the rights of victims of mass atrocities to know the truth about the crimes perpetrated against them and their communities, to gain redress in the form of prosecution of perpetrators, financial compensation and restitution, as well as medical and psycho-social rehabilitation.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.