Justice Delayed is Justice Denied
Justice for victims and accountability for perpetrators of genocide in Darfur must not be overlooked.
In commemoration of International Criminal Justice Day, Darfur Women Action Group would like to express its gratitude and wholehearted support to the International Criminal Court and highlight the failure of world leaders to fulfill their commitment to justice for the genocide currently being committed against the people of Darfur under the watch of the international community.
The Darfur genocide began 12 years ago and the case of Darfur was referred to the ICC by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in 2005. Despite countless challenges, the ICC successfully investigated the crimes and brought charges against four Sudanese officials, including Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir. Regrettably, to this date, the killings, mass rapes, displacements and all kinds of human rights abuses continue against the innocent men, women and children of Darfur while the perpetrators remain in power. Impunity for these heinous crimes is not only devastating to the affected communities but it is extremely detrimental to our world’s peace and security because it sends the message that perpetrators can get away with mass murder.
It’s quite dismaying that many countries and governments, including members of the ICC, have chosen not to act in the face of genocide, violating their oath of “never again” along with their legal obligation. Most recently, South Africa allowed President al-Bashir to leave the country despite a court order requiring him to stay. It’s worth noting that the ICC has fulfilled its duty but due to lack of support from UNSC members and the shameful failure of the States Parties to the Rome Statue to fulfill their legal and moral obligations, none of the indicted Sudanese officials have been brought to justice and the genocide rages on.
Since the international community has chosen to ignore the longest genocide in history, the ICC, as the court of last resort, is the only hope for the people of Darfur, who have been suffering at the hands of their own government for far too long. On this important day, it is crucial that we support the ICC and make our voices louder to remind our leaders that they must stand with the victims, not the criminals.
We recognize the fact that the United Sates is not a signatory to the ICC, however the case of Darfur was referred to the ICC by UNSC members under SC/RES 1593. The United States is a leading member of the UNSC and it is therefore obligated to support the UNSC referral and enable the ICC to proceed in bringing the perpetrators to justice.
The United States has historically contributed to the creation of several ad-hoc international tribunals to pursue accountability and try perpetrators of crimes similar to those being committed in Darfur, such as the case of Liberia, Rwanda and the special court for Sierra Leone. Sudan should not be an exception. In this regard, the ICC has provided a unique opportunity for the international community to collaboratively pursue accountability through a permanent institution.
Regrettably, the Obama Administration, despite its rhetoric of bringing peace to Sudan, has not only failed to recognize the importance of accountability, but has chosen to remain silent in the face of the longest genocide in history. This silence is a huge roadblock to peace in Darfur and Sudan at large. President al-Bashir has been emboldened and allowed to continue orchestrating mass murders, rapes, and gross human rights abuses as a part of his deliberate policy to eliminate an entire population because of the impunity he enjoys and the international community’s failure to hold him accountable.
The world has said “never again” so many times and is currently allowing it to happen yet again. Genocide is happening this very moment and the entire world knows about it, yet they do nothing. In fact, they allow Omar al-Bashir to travel freely and participate in regional and international forums, ultimately enabling his genocidal policy.
We are gravely concerned by the inaction of world leaders and lack of cooperation from ICC member states, which are contributing to the prolonged suffering of Darfuri civilians and preventing the ICC from achieving justice. Therefore, we would like to take this opportunity to call on the United States, ICC’s member states, UNSC members and the International Community to fulfill their legal and moral obligations and demand that they take the following steps to ensure that impunity for the world’s worst crimes – genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity – is not an option.
– ICC states parties must uphold their legal obligation to provide cooperation and support for the ICC to continue its investigation into the ongoing crimes in Darfur.
– We urge the United States government not to invite or welcome Sudanese officials who are members of the current genocidal regime or grant them visas to enter their country.
– We demand that our leaders prioritize justice for victims and accountability for perpetrators and their accomplices who are aiding them in evading justice.
– We call on the ICC to continue investigating the past and current crimes committed in Darfur.
We call on world citizens and those who believe in justice to continue to support our effort and amplify our voices to fight impunity and hold our leaders accountable for ignoring and allowing horrific crimes to continue unabated. Our silence will not only enable the delay of justice but will allow more people to be murdered, raped, and attacked with impunity. We must speak up and continue our fight until the day in which the last criminal is brought to justice.