Sudan`s Prez committing new crimes in Darfur: Prosecutor

Last Updated: Thursday, June 9, 2011 - 10:38

New York: Sudan`s President Omar al-Bashir is committing new crimes in Darfur and challenging the authority of the UN Security Council, the chief international war crimes prosecutor said on Wednesday.

"Crimes against humanity and genocide continue unabated in Darfur," International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told the Security Council.

He said new air attacks on civilians and killings of ethnic minorities had been carried out in the conflict-stricken western region, where the United Nations says at least 300,000 people have died since an uprising started in 2003.

"These millions of victims displaced are still subjected today to rapes, terror and conditions of life aimed at the destruction of their communities, constituting genocide," Moreno-Ocampo said.

Bashir has already been charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes by the ICC but refuses to recognise its authority, though his travels have been severely restricted.

"President al-Bashir has learned how to continue to commit crimes challenging the authority of the UN Security Council," the prosecutor said in his report to the council on Darfur.

"He did not stop the commission of the genocide against the displaced, but he is blocking the dissemination of information about their fate."

Bashir had denied the crimes, blamed others and proposed a special court "to conduct investigations that will never start”, Moreno-Ocampo said.

"At the same President Al-Bashir is threatening the international community with retaliation and yet more crimes," added the prosecutor, who accused the Sudanese leader of using his status as a wanted criminal as a "negotiating tool”.

The African Union has pressed for the UN Security Council to suspend the charges against Bashir for one year, which is allowed under the ICC`s founding statute. But so far no African member of the council has asked for the suspension, diplomats said.

African nations frequently complain that the ICC investigations are concentrated on Africa.

But there is renewed international concern over Darfur.

Human Rights Watch said this week that the government had intensified attacks in the region.

"Since December 2010, a surge in government-led attacks on populated areas and a campaign of aerial bombing have killed and injured scores of civilians, destroyed property, and displaced more than 70,000 people, largely from ethnic Zaghawa and Fur communities linked to rebel groups," HRW said.

"In mid-May alone, government airstrikes in north and south Darfur reportedly killed more than 20 civilians," the rights watchdog said.

There had been a significant decline in violence in recent years. But in December, rebel leader Minni Minnawi took up arms against the government for failing to implement a 2006 peace accord he signed with them.

Minnawi`s branch of the Sudan Liberation Army is now fighting alongside the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the SLA faction of Abdelwahid Nur.

A Darfur conference in Doha ended last week with the adoption of a framework document for peace in Sudan`s troubled western region.

But while the JEM, the most-heavily armed rebel group, welcomed the document as a basis for future negotiations with Khartoum, neither of the other two key rebel movements attended the conference.

Bureau Report



First Published: Thursday, June 9, 2011 - 10:38

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