For Immediate Release
For Immediate Release
Today, July 17th, 2018, marks International Justice Day as well the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Rome Statue represents an important milestone in the advancement of global criminal justice as it revolutionized the need for justice and accountability measures at the global stage. Prior to the ICC, war crimes and mass atrocities were dealt with on a limited ad hoc basis, through tribunals like those created in response to Rwanda, former Yugoslavia, and Cambodia. The creation of the ICC represented the recognized need for an autonomous standing body with a sustainable approach to protect citizens around the world and hold leaders responsible for committing crimes accountable. Despite the fact that the ICC is still a relatively young institution with enormous challenges, it remains crucial by giving the international community a global institution which strives to broaden the base for justice, by providing a legal point of reference to resort to in the face of such serious crimes like those committed in Darfur
This day signifies hope for the people of Darfur, who have suffered the worse type of injustices and are still yearning for justice. In 2005 the United Nations referred the case of Darfur to the ICC. The ICC began its investigation in Darfur by looking as far back as July 2002 and as recently as today. The ICC investigated and issued two arrest warrants against the President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir as well as other arrest warrants for Sudanese officials responsible for crimes committed in Darfur. However, President al-Bashir remains a fugitive, continuing to deny and defy the ICC’s arrest warrant while simultaneously continuing to pursue a genocide in Darfur. International Justice Day is an important reminder to stand with the people of Darfur and many others who are still crying for justice.
For more than 15 years, the Sudanese Government has been carrying out a genocidal campaign against the indigenous African population in Darfur. The government forces, the notorious Janjaweed militia, and the Rapid Support Forces, constantly attack civilians, burn and loot villages, force people out of their homes, and rape women and girls. These unrelenting tactics of genocide have forced millions to flee their homes. In addition to these horrendous acts, al-Bashir has used chemical weapons against the people of Darfur. Amnesty International brought forth a report in September 2016 confirming that the Sudanese Government had used chemical weapons against the civilian population in the Jebel Marra region of Darfur. Between 200 and 250 civilians, the majority of whom were children, died as a direct result of this attack. The report indicated that survivors of this attack developed life-threatening symptoms, including severe gastrointestinal condition causing them to vomit blood, have severe diarrhea, develop severe and painful blisters and rashes on the skin, lose their vision, and develop other respiratory problems. President al-Bashir’s regime has also begun to employ tactics other than plain violence; the government has begun to wield other strategies, such as starvation and the blockade of humanitarian aid, as a weapon against Darfuris.
Those who manage to escape Sudan continue to live in deplorable situations in neighboring countries. Sometimes, refugees are deported for no legitimate reason and forced to return to the same regime in Sudan that forced them to flee. Those who remain in Sudan are repeatedly subjected to attacks, rape, and dehumanization. In most cases, these cams are lacking some of the basic survival needs such as water and health assistance, putting the lives of million under severe bodily and psychological harm
Today, we must remind the world that the people of Darfur are still suffering and are still demanding justice. It is particularly important that we expose the criminals responsible for the suffering of millions of civilians and their crimes and call upon the international community to support the ICC by aiding the arrest of President al-Bashir, and other officials responsible for the mass atrocities in Darfur.
While the suffering of millions of people continues without any sign of stopping, some members of the international community make dismaying move to reward the regime causing all this suffering instead of holding them accountable. In October of 2017, the United States made the decision to lift sanction on Sudan. While the United States is not a member state to the ICC, the case of Darfur is referred to the ICC by the United Nations Security Council and in this context, the US is obligated to support the UNSC referral pursuant to the UNSC-R 1593.
Even more so shocking is the European Union’s collaboration with the Government of Sudan to curb the flow of refugees. The EU has paid over $200 million to the Sudanese Government for curbing the number of refugees coming to Europe. Collaborating and providing funds for a regime led by a man wanted for genocide by the court that the EU’s member states are working to advance represent a contradiction of EU’s own principle.
While all are celebrating the Rome Statute, we wish to remind the United States and the EU that supporting justice for the victims and holding the perpetrator accountable is the most appropriate and expected action of them, not rewarding an indicted war criminal.
The suffering endured by the people of Darfur demonstrates the crucial need for accountability, the same need which gave way to the creation of the ICC. The ICC’s indictment of President al-Bashir was the response for the global outcry for justice in the wake of the genocide in Darfur. Therefore, the ICC’s indictment must be met with the full support for the international community and all citizens of the world. States party to the Rome Statute need to fulfill their legal obligation by aiding the ICC to implement the pending arrest warrants, by formally arresting and transferring President al-Bashir and his accomplices to The Hague.
Today as we reflect on the work the ICC has done, we must remember that justice delayed is justice denied. Therefore, we call on all of you to raise your voice and demand justice for the people of Darfur. We must raise our voices and let our leaders know that we will not stand for their amicability towards a genocidal regime. We must show our support to the chief prosecutor of the ICC Fatou Bensouda, to facilitate their dedicated effort in bringing the long-awaited justice to the genocide in Darfur. We must remind our leaders that impunity for these serious crimes cannot and must not be promoted The ICC was founded on the principals of “never again” and it is our moral responsibility to hold our leaders accountable to their promises. Rewarding al-Bashir and inviting him back to the global forums, not only undermines the Rome statue but undermines the very principle that the international community has constantly preached.
While the world is shocked by the man-made crises and the use of force which have occurred in the 21st century, the ICC represents a unique opportunity to replace that with the force of law. We must rally behind and support this great institution. We believe pursuing justice is necessary not just to punish the perpetrators of the world’s worst crimes, but to establish the base for accountability and to prevent future crimes.
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