(Nairobi, December 12, 2005)—President Omar El Bashir of Sudan and other senior officials should be investigated for crimes against humanity in Darfur and placed on a U.N. sanctions list, Human Rights Watch said today in a new report published in advance of upcoming U.N. Security Council discussions on Darfur. The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is scheduled to brief the Council tomorrow on his investigation into atrocities in Darfur.
“The Sudanese government’s systematic attacks on civilians in Darfur have been accompanied by a policy of impunity for all those responsible for the crimes,” said Peter Takirambudde, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Senior Sudanese officials—including President Omar El Bashir—must be held accountable for the campaign of ethnic cleansing in Darfur.”
The Human Rights Watch report describes the process, replicated across Darfur, in which militia leaders collaborated with regional administrators and military commanders, usually meeting to co-ordinate strategy prior to attacks on rural villages and towns. By early 2004 it was clear, even to some soldiers, that civilians were the targets. One former soldier told Human Rights Watch that when he protested to his commander, he was told, “You have to attack the civilians.”
Human Rights Watch said that the looting and destruction of villages was not just condoned by government officials, it was methodically organized, with troops and militia members permitted to take land, livestock and other civilian property. Senior Sudanese officials played a direct role coordinating the offensives—and particularly the aerial bombing campaign—from Khartoum.
The report also examines the Sudanese government’s dismal record on accountability. Despite several Sudanese government initiatives, including a national inquiry into the crimes, numerous committees established to investigate rape and other crimes, and a national tribunal to try the perpetrators of crimes in Darfur, not a single mid- or high-level civilian official, military commander or militia leader has been suspended from duty, investigated or prosecuted.
“The Sudanese government feigns compliance with international demands by setting up committees that produce absolutely no results,” said Takirambudde. “The ICC should investigate key actors at every level, including regional officials.”
The report is based on hundreds of eyewitness accounts, more than ten investigations by Human Rights Watch in Chad and Darfur, and Sudanese government documents, as well as secondary sources. It reveals the strategy and network behind the Sudanese government’s massive counter-insurgency campaign against rebel groups in Darfur in early 2003, when government forces and government-backed militias known as the “Janjaweed” killed, raped and tortured tens of thousands of people, mainly those sharing the ethnicity of the rebel movements, forcibly displaced more than two million people, and looted or destroyed all their property.
The U.N. Security Council will receive three reports on Darfur in December: the final report and recommendations of the Panel of Experts of the Sanctions Committee; the monthly report of the U.N. Secretary General; and the ICC Prosecutor’s briefing. In March the Council referred Darfur to the ICC and the Prosecutor opened an investigation on June 6.
Although the U.N. Security Council established a mechanism in March 2005 to enforce a partial arms embargo and to impose sanctions on individuals committing abuses, not a single person has yet been sanctioned by the U.N.
“Nine months ago the Security Council set up a Sanctions Committee to penalize individuals responsible for abuses in Darfur but it has yet to act against anyone,” said Takirambudde. “If the Security Council wants to see real progress in Darfur it must act now.”
Human Rights Watch also called on the Security Council to provide more support to the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), which has deployed approximately 7,000 personnel in Darfur, and for AMIS to actively protect civilians in Darfur.
The African Union is not only providing troops in Darfur; it is negotiating a peace agreement between the Sudanese government and the Darfur rebel groups. Despite the Sudanese government’s involvement in ongoing crimes in Darfur, the A.U. is allowing Sudan to host January’s A.U. summit in the capital, Khartoum. A new A.U. president is also due to be elected, and there are indications that President Bashir might obtain the post.
“Having the A.U. summit in Khartoum is bad enough, but giving President Bashir—who should be investigated for war crimes—the A.U. chair would be a travesty,” said Takirambudde.
Partial list of individuals who should be investigated by the ICC:
This list is not a comprehensive list of all individuals potentially liable for crimes in Darfur. It is presented as a summary of those individuals named in this report and recommended for investigation by the ICC, but additional individuals not named in this report should also be investigated and prosecuted for crimes in Darfur.
• President Omar El Bashir
• Second Vice-President Ali Osman Taha: Former First Vice-President until late 2005.
• Maj. Gen. Abduraheem M. Hussein: Former minister of the interior and representative of the president for Darfur, 2003-2004; now minister of defense.
• Maj. Gen. Bakri Hassan Salih: Former minister of defense; now minister for presidential affairs.
• Abbas Arabi: Chief of Staff of the Sudanese armed forces.
• Gen. Salah Abdallah Ghosh: Director of Security and Military Intelligence.
• Ahmed Haroun: Former state minister of the interior, responsible for Darfur portfolio within the Ministry of the Interior; now state minister for humanitarian affairs.
Current or former regional officials:
The individuals listed below are included because, as described in the text of the report, they are or were the senior government officials in their districts or states when crimes amounting to war crimes or crimes against humanity were committed by government forces.
• Al Tayeb Abdullah Torshain: Former commissioner of Mukjar, 2003-2005.
• Al Haj Attar Al Mannan Idris: Governor of South Darfur, mid-2004 to present.
• Ja’afar Abdel el Hakh: Commissioner of Garsila until April 2004; now governor of West Darfur.
• Maj. Gen. Adam Hamid Musa: Governor of South Darfur, 2003 to mid-2004.
• Maj. Gen. Abdallah Safi el Nour: Retired air force pilot and former governor of North Darfur, 2000-2001; and national minister in Khartoum 2003-2004. Allegedly involved in directing air operations and in the supply of arms to the militias.
• Brig.-Gen. Ahmed Al Hajir Mohammed: Commander of the 16th Infantry Division forces used in the attacks on the villages of Marla, Ishma, and Labado in December 2004.
• Maj. Gen. Al Hadi Adam Hamid: Chief of “border guards”; key liaison to Janjaweed militias.
• Lt. Col. Abdul Wahid Said Ali Said: Commander of the 2nd Border Intelligence Brigade based in Misteriya, which supports military operations in and around Kebkabiya.
• Maj. Gaddal Fadlallah: Commander in Kutum whose forces are responsible for numerous attacks on civilians, destruction of villages, and looting of civilian property.
• “Abu Ashreen”: This is the nickname or nom de guerre of Abdullah Saleh Sabeel, a forty-eight-year-old Beni Hussein from Sareef, in the Kebkabiya area. He also occasionally uses the name Abdullah Dagash. He is related to Nazir El Ghadi Adam Hamid, the brother of Maj. Gen. Al Hadi Adam Hamid. He has the rank of either corporal (arif) or sergeant (raqib), and leads a militia based in Kebkabiya.
• Sheikh Musa Hilal: Numerous eyewitnesses place Hilal at the scene of different attacks in North Darfur in which serious crimes, including rape, murder and torture, were committed. Numerous eyewitnesses, including former members of the Sudanese armed forces, also identify Hilal as a key militia recruiter and coordinator.
• “Ali Kosheib”: This is the nickname or nom de guerre of Ali Mohammed Ali. He was one of the key leaders of the attacks on villages around Mukjar, Bindisi, and Garsila in 2003-2004. Several eyewitnesses recognized him as one of the commanders of the operations in March 2004, in which several hundred men were executed around Deleig, Garsila, and Mukjar.
• Mustapha Abu Nuba: Tribal leader of a Riziegat sub-clan in South Darfur. Allegedly responsible for numerous attacks on villages in South Darfur, including the attack on and looting of Kaila.
• Nazir Al Tijani Abdel Kadir: Tribal leader of the Misseriya militia based in Niteiga, South Darfur. Allegedly responsible for the attack on the village of Khor Abeche on April 7, 2005, and other attacks in the area.
• Mohammed Hamdan: Riziegat militia leader allegedly involved in Adwah attack and looting in November 2004.