Sunday, November 26, 2006

On Darfur: They came out and said it…FINALLY!

At the annual meeting of the International Criminal Court’s member states in The Hague, chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, stated that the Court had sufficient evidence to identify perpetrators of the atrocities in Sudan’s Darfur region. He also said that the Court had “reasonable grounds to believe” that crimes against humanity were committed. The Court identified the following atrocities: “rape, torture, willful murder, sexual and inhumane violent acts, extra-judicial killings and the forcible transfer and prosecution of civilians.”

Moreno-Ocampo’s investigators interviewed judges, prosecutors, Sudanese investigators, a top Sudanese military official, and a senior political official. 600 potential witnesses were screened and 100 in-depth interviews were conducted. “To define the truth is important, and to define the responsibility is important, to prevent it from reoccurring.”

Last week in Ethiopia a tentative agreement was reached to boost the 7,000 member African Union force with 10,000 more UN troops. Sudan, who has opposed deployment of UN troops, has asked for a delay until Wednesday. A senior US official stated that the Sudanese government fears that UN troops “will discover more evidence. What they don’t realize is that there is more than enough evidence now.” Andrew Natsios, a US presidential special envoy to Sudan said, “There is no doubt that the Janjaweed and those who are committing atrocities are an extension of the Sudanese military.”

For those following the situation in Darfur, many of these findings are not new; however, this is a significant step in sending help to the area. Now that the international community is not turning a blind eye to Darfur, some progress can be made to put a stop to the genocide. In regards to the case in Rwanda, Clinton stated after the genocide was over that the US could have sent about 5-10,000 troops that probably could have saved about 400,000 people! I feel the same would be true in Darfur. Even a relatively small effort on the part of the US would be capable of saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Hopefully this statement by the ICC will spur some action by the international community before it’s too late…

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