The confirmation of charges hearing against Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman, otherwise known as Ali Kushayb concluded on May 26 after three days in the Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC). 31 charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes have been submitted against Ali Kushayb by the Prosecutor and Office of Public Counsel for Victims (OPCV). In the next 60 days, The Judges will determine whether sufficient evidence was brought before the court to commit Ali Kushayb to the Trial Chamber. Once confirmed, trial dates, procedures, and judges will be selected for the official trial.
During the first day of the public hearing, Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda submitted each of the 31 charges against Ali Kushayb alleged to be committed in the Wadi Salih and Mukjar districts between August 2003 and at least April 2004. Her statements implicate Ali Kushayb in the murder of at least 199 civilians and the forcible transfer of nearly 40,000 Darfuris. Prosecutor Bensouda provided evidence that Ali Kushayb, referred to as the ‘Colonel of Colonels’, was one of the primary instigators and driving forces of the heinous crimes.
Counsel from the OPCV lawyers Ms. Paolina Massidda, Ms. Amal Clooney, and Mr. Nasser Mohamed Amin Abdalla are representing 151 survivors. Ms. Clooney drew attention to the “uncannily consistent stories” provided in the testimony of surviving victims, which all place Ali Kushayb at the center of the crimes perpetrated against Darfuris. Witness testimony confirmed that sexual violence was routinely wielded by the Janjaweed militia under Ali Kushayb’s control as a weapon of war used to “humiliate, punish, control and inflict fear” in women and terrorize the wider community.
Ali Kushayb’s defence has primarily been rooted in the claim that he is Mr. Abd-Al-Rahman, not the Ali Kushayb who perpetrated the horrible crimes he’s being accused of. DWAG strongly supports Ms. Clooney’s closing remarks which state that the defendant is unmistakably Ali Kushayb of the Janjaweed militia and stresses the credibility of testimony given by survivors. DWAG stands in solidarity with the victims and urges the ICC to thoroughly consider their reliable testimonies. The confirmation of all 31 charges brought before the ICC Judges is essential to begin the process of justice and restore dignity to survivors.
DWAG is encouraged by Ms. Clooney’s promise that the prosecution will “100% continue to investigate” the crimes in Darfur in lieu of adding additional charges against Ali Kushayb for genocide and sexual violence against Darfuri women, as the current geographical and time restrictions of this case leave out many victims. To this day, the genocide continues to ravage the people of Darfur with violence and cruelty. As highlighted by Ms. Clooney, the nature of this case poses significant limitations to justice as many victims fear stigmatization or retaliatory violence if they come forward. We urge the state parties and Member States of the United Nations Security Council to fully support these proceedings to ensure that survivors have the ability to participate in each step of the proceedings.
The case against Ali Kushayb will not only set a critical precedent for the future legal proceedings of the cases against al Bashir, Haroun, and Hussein, but will send a strong message to those still suffering that the international community has not forgotten Darfur. Ali Kushayb must be held accountable for his crimes. DWAG also stresses that accountability must not stop at Ali Kushayb. The victims of Ali Kushayb have waited nearly 18 years to have their voice heard and see justice carried out. DWAG urges the interim government to support the right to justice of all Darfuris by surrendering all of the indictees and putting them on trial before the ICC and the world before any true accountability can be reached. Impunity for such crimes is not an option; justice must prevail. DWAG encourages our supporters to stand in solidarity with the victims and demand justice for the people of Darfur throughout this process.