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The Darfur War Crimes Test

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By Mia Farrow and Eric Reeves; Originally published in the Wall Street Journal

This week marks a grim and largely unnoticed anniversary. On April 27, 2007, International Criminal Court judges issued arrest warrants for two men involved in the massive, ongoing atrocities in the Darfur region of western Sudan: Former state minister of the interior Ahmed Haroun, and Ali Kushayb, a key leader of the brutal Arab militia known as Janjaweed.

Both are charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Evidence in the ICC cases against both men is overwhelming, including numerous eyewitness accounts from victims as well as compelling documentary evidence. Yet Khartoum refuses to extradite or lift a finger in prosecuting either man.

No surprise there. Were Mr. Haroun and Mr. Kushayb to testify in the Hague, where the ICC is based, the most senior members of the Khartoum regime would be at obvious risk of indictment themselves. Mr. Haroun in particular could point far up the military and civilian chain of
command.

In a grotesque irony, Mr. Haroun has even been promoted to the position of state minister for humanitarian affairs, with major responsibility for millions of desperate victims of the very crimes he orchestrated.

More than five years have passed since the Khartoum regime and its Janjaweed allies launched their campaign of destruction against the non-Arab populations of Darfur. The savagery of the attacks upon civilians, the torched villages, mass murders, rapes, abductions and mutilations have made the word Darfur synonymous with human suffering.

More than 2.5 million people have fled from their burning homes in terror, seeking tenuous refuge in wretched camps across Darfur and eastern Chad.

The ICC is charged with investigating and prosecuting cases in which the national courts of a country cannot or will not render justice even in the face of the most horrific international crimes. The ICC, however, has no police force of its own, and so relies on others to execute its arrest warrants. In the case of Darfur, the ICC arrest warrants derive from a United Nations Security Council resolution.

Khartoum's refusal to arrest the suspects should be superseded by the Council's authority to act in the interests of international peace and security. But Security Council members have shown little interest in pressuring Sudan to comply with the resolution. As long as the Security Council continues in this vein, Mr. Haroun and Mr. Kushayb will operate
with complete impunity in Sudan.

Those nations who have committed their support to the ICC must understand that a green light for the likes of such men is also a green light for Khartoum's defiance of other international demands. The large, U.N.-authorized protection force, for example, has for nine months been obstructed by this regime. If the international community lacks the will to confront Khartoum, the dying in Darfur will continue apace.

Last December, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor for the ICC, issued a devastating report to the Security Council. "We are witnessing a calculated, organized campaign by Sudanese officials to attack individuals and further destroy the social fabric of entire communities," he declared. "All information points not to chaotic and isolated acts, but to a pattern of attacks."

The Council failed to provide any support for Mr. Moreno-Ocampo and his terrifying indictment. The ICC must find a way to circumvent Security Council paralysis. International justice will only be served if, in the face of the most egregious international crimes, the nations of the world can place justice before sovereignty.

The United States should take the lead in reforming the Security Council to make it more effective, representative and committed to the ideals of international justice. Darfur is the test case - one year and counting.

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