51 suspects named by UN for war crimes in Darfur

April 6, 2005

The Sudanese Government said it will not hand over 51 suspects named by the UN for war crimes in the Darfur region.

The sealed list, presented to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday, was drawn up following an investigation by the UN into claims of killings, torture and rape committed by Government forces and militias in the Darfur region. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, backed by huge protests against the UN in Sudan's capital of Khartoum, snubbed the UN resolution which was passed last week to bring suspects to trial before the court. Omar al-Bashir explained that he "shall never hand any Sudanese national to a foreign court". [1]

ICC's chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo said, "Now, we have a common task to end the culture of impunity," upon receiving the list of suspects at the UN headquarters in New York. He continued: "I will closely monitor ongoing crimes in Darfur as well as efforts to prevent and stop them". The Darfur case is expected to demonstrate the effectiveness of the ICC, whose purpose is to try alleged genocide, war crimes and mass human rights violations criminals.

As the ICC, based in the Hague, received thousands of pages of evidence collected by UN investigators, Sudanese protesters descended upon the gates of the UN compound in Khartoum, fiercely criticising the UN's involvement in the Darfur conflict. [2]

"We are coming here to say to America 'no' to these orders. We are not people who have to listen to orders from anybody except the Sudan," one demonstrator told the BBC. Stating that it will prosecute suspects itself, Sudan's government earlier described the UN's decision to try individuals allegedly linked to the atrocities committed in Darfur as "unfair, ill-advised and narrow-minded". [3] The UN has since said it hoped the Sudanese Government would cooperate before indictments and arrest warrants are issued, and the UN understood that Sudanese rebels will surrender to the court if they are indicted. [4]

According to the UN, at least 180,000 people have died and more than two million have fled the region since the conflict between black African rebels and Arab militia began two years ago.