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Security Council must act now to end Darfur ‘hell on earth’

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The UN Security Council Member States must authorize immediate measures to bring real security to the people of Darfur, including referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Minority Rights Group International (MRG) today urged decisive action and called for the Security Council to move beyond diplomatic and monitoring measures. Such actions have proved wholly ineffective in stopping attacks and displacement in Darfur, which Kofi Annan yesterday called ‘little short of hell on earth’.

MRG’s Head of Advocacy, Clive Baldwin, stated: ‘It is no longer acceptable for the Security Council Members to let monitoring bodies and expert panels take the place of real action to address real suffering on the ground in Darfur. They have had ample opportunity to put in place concrete measures should diplomacy fail. Today that diplomacy has failed.’

MRG has called upon the UK government to support the ICC referral and to use its influence with the US and other Security Council members to prevent them using their power of veto to block such a move. However MRG maintains that ICC referral must go alongside additional Security Council authorized action aimed at urgently stopping attacks. This should include immediate political, diplomatic and targeted economic sanctions and a complete military embargo including the enforcement of no-fly zones. MRG stressed that numerous UN sponsored and independent investigations and reports have consistently revealed continuing state sponsored violations despite Security Council Resolutions and Sudanese government assurances.

On 16 February, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, briefed the Security Council on the report of the International Commission of Inquiry (ICI), which found that war crimes and crimes against humanity had been perpetrated by the government and its allied Janjaweed militias. Ms Arbour gave her strong support to the ICI recommendation for referral to the ICC and additional measures including unimpeded access for UN human rights monitors and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Following consistent failures to ensure security, she stated that further initiatives proposed by the Sudanese Government should be dismissed.

Referring to the ICI report, UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan stated: ‘This report demonstrates beyond all doubt that the last two years have been little short of hell on earth for our fellow human beings in Darfur. And, despite the attention the Council has paid to this crisis, that hell continues today.’

Notes for editors

The Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur to the United Nations Secretary-General states that: Based on a thorough analysis of the information gathered in the course of its investigations, the Commission established that the Government of the Sudan and the Janjaweed are responsible for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law amounting to crimes under international law. In particular, the Commission found that Government forces and militias conducted indiscriminate attacks, including killing of civilians, torture, enforced disappearances, destruction of villages, rape and other forms of sexual violence, pillaging and forced displacement, throughout Darfur. These acts were conducted on a widespread and systematic basis, and therefore may amount to crimes against humanity. The vast majority of the victims of all of these violations have been from the Fur, Zaghawa, Massalit, Jebel, Aranga and other so-called ‘African’ tribes.

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