International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced Dec. 12 that she has suspended investigations into alleged war crimes in Sudan's Darfur, citing the UN Security Council's inaction in the case. "I am left with no choice but to hibernate investigative activities in Darfur as I shift resources to other urgent cases," Bensouda told the Security Council, rebuking the UN body for failing to push for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Presenting her 20th report to the Council on Darfur, Bensouda stated that without action, the cases against Bashir and three other indicted suspects would remain deadlocked. "What is needed is a dramatic shift in this council's approach to arresting Darfur suspects," Bensouda told the Council, or there would be "little or nothing to report to you for the foreseeable future." She also emphasized that the conflict is not over, saying that "massive new displacements" have taken place this year in Darfur.
Street clashes continued in the Sudanese capital Khartoum for a second day Sept. 26 after massive protests broke out over the regime's move to cut fuel subsidies. At least 30 have been killed, and protestors have taken up the slogans of the Arab Revolutions, "Freedom, Freedom!" and "The people want the fall of the regime!" The regime has suspended Internet access for 48 hours in a bid to head off new demonstrations that have been called for after Friday prayers. Authorities say that police are among the dead, and that armed militants from the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) are infiltrating and inciting the protests. Opposition figures, in turn, accuse agents of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) of being behind arson attacks on government buildings and public buses. (Sudan Tribune, Sept. 26; BBC News, Sept. 25)
We've pointed out that some "anti-war" commentators are glibly calling for an International Criminal Court case as a "solution" for Syria—despite the fact that six years after the ICC issued a warrant for Sudan's Omar Bashir, he remains in power and carrying out mass murder (most recently against the Nuba people of South Kordofan, although the Darfur conflict continues even now). So while there may be much to recommend an ICC warrant for Syria's Bashar Assad, there is no reason to believe it will save a single Syrian life. And now Joshua Keating on Slate's The World blog succinctly explains why this pseudo-solution, in fact, isn't even possible...
On Sept. 20, Amnesty International (AI) called upon members of the UN to demand Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir turn himself in to the International Criminal Court (ICC), where he faces charges for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide allegedly committed during the Darfur conflict. Al-Bashir has continually ignored the charges against him and is still being protected by the Sudanese government. AI is calling for the international community to come together in cooperation with the ICC in order to bring al-Bashir to justice. Despite the warrants for his arrest, al-Bashir has reportedly applied for a US visa in order to attend the 68th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
Sudan made minor headlines by expelling 20 staff members of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, with UNHCR accusing the government of "compromising the ability of the refugee agency to effectively undertake its work in Darfur." (Radio Dabanga, Aug. 6) The spat comes amid a re-inflammation of the Darfur conflict. The UN Security Council passed a resolution last week calling for an end to heightening violence in Darfur, and greater action by "peacekeepers" to protect civilians. The council extended the mandate of the joint UN-African Union force in Darfur until next August. (AP, July 30) Days later, Misseriya tribal leader Ahmed Khiri boatsed to AFP that his forces had killed 100 members of the rival Salamat tribe in a battle near Garsila, with 28 lost on his own side. (AFP, July 30) Estimates of the number of newly displaced in Darfur so far this year is estimated at over 240,000. (Radio Dabanga via AllAfrica, Aug. 2)
Deputy commander of the JEM-Bashar rebel faction and international war crimes suspect Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus has reportedly been killed in Northern Darfur. The group reported his death on April 22, which was later confirmed by his defense team. Jamus was charged in connection with an attack on African Union peacekeepers in September 2007 at Haskanita, which resulted in the death of 12 peacekeepers. He was charged with three war crimes: violence to life and attempted violence to life; intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units and vehicles involved in a peacekeeping mission; and pillaging. His hearing was scheduled to begin in May.
Six people were injured Dec. 9 as Sudanese police used tear-gas against hundreds of student protesters near the University of Khartoum. The protesters—who chanted the iconic Arab Spring slogan "The people want to overthrow the regime"—were marching to demand justice in the case of four students from the Darfur region who were found drowned in a canal near the campus of Gezira University, south of the capital, on Dec. 7, after they had participated in protests against tuition hikes. The Khartoum protesters marched through the city center, chanting "Killing a student is killing a nation."
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Aug. 3 urged Sudan to initiate an investigation into allegations of excessive force by government security forces against protesters in Darfur four days earlier resulting in eight deaths and more than 50 injuries. The OHCHR urged the government to "promptly launch an independent and credible investigation into the violence and the apparent excessive use of force by security forces" and noted that international standards must be respected in order to provide civilians the freedom of speech and assembly. During the July 31 protest more than 1,000 people, mostly students, blocked roads in market area of Nyala, the biggest town in Darfur, to express their opposition against fuel price increases. The OHCHR stated that it received eye witness reports that security forces used tear gas as well as live bullets against protesters.