By Tamara Alfred
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa
The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Sudan’s defense minister, Abdul -Rahim Mohamed Hussein, for 41 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed in Darfur.
Hussein is wanted for actions taken during the time of August 2003 to March 2004 in Darfur, where rebels have fought government forces and allied militiamen since 2003. Hussein was Sudan’s interior minister at the time when attacks were made upon the towns and villages of Kodoom, Bindisi, Mukjar and Arawala in West Darfur.
The ICC said “there are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Hussein is criminally responsible for 20 counts of crimes against humanity (persecution, murder, forcible transfer, rape, inhuman acts, imprisonment or severe deprivation of liberty and torture) and 21 counts of war crimes (murder, attacks against civilian population, destruction of property, rape, pillaging and outrage upon personal dignity.)”
The court continued, explaining that “Mr. Hussein made essential contributions to the formulation and implementation of the common plan…through his overall coordination of national, state and local security entities and through the recruitment, arming and funding of the police forces and the Militia/Janjaweed in Darfur.”
The court has at least six other cases involving Darfur. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is wanted for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, while Sudanese government official Ahmad Harun, Janjaweed leader Ali Kushayb, and rebel leaders Abdallah Banda, Saleh Jerbo and Abu Garda also face war crimes charges. However, Sudan does not recognize the ICC and refuses to hand over suspects.
The government in Khartoum was quick to dismiss the ruling, reiterating that Sudan is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty.
“We are not concerned with the court and the decisions that come out of it,” foreign ministry spokesman Al-Obeid Marwih said. “We, like the United States and Russia, are not signatories to the Rome Statute governing the court.”
Sudan’s Minister of Information Sana al-Awad said Sudan was equally unconcerned with this latest arrest warrant. “The court has become a political tool and not one that seeks justice,” she said. “Sudan considers the arrest warrant an outcome of lobbying by anti-Sudan groups in the U.S. It is an unjustifiable allegation.”
Marwih suggested that the timing of the warrant was meant to coincide with the “recent victories” of Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) against the rebels in Blue Nile, South Kordofan and Darfur. “The court’s decision is more of a message to the rebellion than it is to frustrate the armed forces,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Prosecutor of the ICC, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, urged the international community to find “the final solution” for the problem of impunity in Darfur, where he says war crimes have continued despite the various arrest warrants.
“I think we did something complicated – we investigated the crime, we collected the evidence, we clarified the responsibilities,” Moreno-Ocampo told reporters at UN Headquarters. “But our effort is not enough if the crime is not stopped.”
The case against Hussein will be Moreno-Ocampo’s last involving Darfur before his tenure as ICC Prosecutor ends in June.
The United Nations (UN) estimates as many as 300,000 people have been killed and almost 3 million people have been displaced from their homes as a result of the conflict.
For more information, please see:
UN News Centre – Sudan: ICC prosecutor urges world to do more to end impunity in Darfur – 5 March 2012
CNN – Sudan’s defense minister wanted for war crimes – 2 March 2012
Sudan Tribune – Sudan downplays ICC arrest warrant issued for defence minister – 1 March 2012