By Najilaa Ahmed, July 19th 2023
The conflict that erupted in Sudan in April 2023 has brought forth devastating reports of mass atrocities, enforced displacement, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, including conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV). These reports primarily originate from Khartoum and the Darfur region, with a particular focus on El Geneina in West Darfur.
The information comes from survivors, their relatives, and even videos allegedly filmed by perpetrators associated with the Arab militia allegedly allied with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The horrendous crimes committed in West Darfur serve as a stark reminder of the brutal events that occurred in Darfur two decades ago. Once again, we witness the same level of brutality targeting individuals based on their ethnic background. Volker Perthes, the UN Special Representative for Sudan, expressed deep concern about the situation in El Geneina, where the violence has taken on an ethnic dimension.
Unfortunately, despite the conflict between the Sudan Armed Forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces entering its fourth month, the international community, including the media, has remained silent. Notably, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), and the International Criminal Court (ICC) have failed to take decisive action and intervene at a critical time, allowing the ongoing atrocities to persist. This lack of action hampers efforts to prevent another genocide.
On June 13, 2023, UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed deep concern about the increasing ethnic dimension and was appalled by reports of large-scale violence in Darfur. The UN Special Representative and the head of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) noted an emerging pattern of large-scale targeted attacks against civilians based on their ethnic identities. These attacks were allegedly carried out by Arab militias and certain uniformed members of the Armed Rapid Support Forces (RSF). If these reports are verified, they could potentially amount to crimes against humanity.
Meanwhile, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, strongly condemned the ongoing fighting and criticised the parties involved for their blatant disregard for ceasefires.
Rights for Peace expresses its deep dismay at the extensive reports detailing grave violations committed by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), as reported by our partners and activists in Sudan. We wholeheartedly support and join the United States Department of State in calling for investigations and prosecutions of atrocities in Darfur.
We also commend the belated response from the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), who briefed the United Nations Security Council on July 13, 2023. It is encouraging to hear that the prosecutor is currently investigating fresh allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Darfur region. This includes the recent tragic killings of 87 members of the ethnic Masalit community, allegedly perpetrated by the Rapid Security Forces and its militia.
We fully support and align ourselves with all the calls and statements issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United States Department of State, the International Criminal Court Prosecutor, and the United Nations Secretary-General.
In light of these developments, we urge the ICC prosecutor to expand their investigations to include all crimes committed in Darfur since their last inquiry under the ICC's jurisdiction. This should encompass crimes and violations that have occurred since 1 July 2002 up to the present day. Furthermore, we call upon the United Nations Security Council and the United Nations Human Rights Council to swiftly establish an investigative mechanism to examine all the atrocities committed in Sudan since June 3, 2019. This should include the violations perpetrated after the October 2021 military coup and the ongoing atrocities since 15 April 2023.
It is imperative that accountability prevails for the sake of all those affected by these atrocities.
Photo credit: Albert Gonzalez Farran UNIMID