ICC prosecutor must go to Darfur

(THE HAGUE, 1 December 2005): Non-governmental organisations meeting in the Hague today on the occasion of the 4th Assembly of State Parties to the treaty which founded the International Criminal Court (ICC) called on the ICC Prosecutor to travel to Sudan and meet publicly with the Government of Sudan and civil society.

The open letter, endorsed by a coalition of NGOs including Action Professionals’ Association for the People (Ethiopia), Citizens for Global Solutions, the Darfur Consortium, Human Rights First, Human Rights Network Uganda, No Peace Without Justice, Recherches et Documentation Juridiques Africaines and the Sudan Organisation Against Torture, urged that “it is time for the people of Darfur and Sudan to see justice being done.”

The groups pointed out that in Sudan, “[t]he ICC investigation in Darfur has created an environment where there is at once huge expectation, apprehension and misunderstanding about the mandate of the ICC and its implications.”

Earlier this year the situation in Darfur was referred to the ICC by the UN Security Council, a move warmly welcomed by many on the ground in Darfur where the persistence of impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity as a critical factor prolonging the conflict.

Since April 2003, conflict has raged in Darfur, Sudan and it is estimated that over 400,000 people have died and over two and a half million have been forced from their homes. The deliberate targeting of civilians and the wholesale destruction of settlements has been a hallmark of the violence.