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ICC prosecutor believes warring parties committing war crimes in Darfur

THE International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor told the U.N. Security Council that “there are grounds to believe” both Sudan’s regular army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are committing war crimes in Darfur at present.

War erupted in Sudan on April 15, 2023, between the Sudanese armed forces and the RSF. ICC prosecutor Karim Khan launched an investigation in July last year into the surge of hostilities in Sudan’s Darfur region.

The ICC’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, gives the court jurisdiction over four major crimes – genocide, crimes against humanity, crimes of aggression and war crimes – that are grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. The conventions set the internationally accepted rules of armed conflict.

“It’s my clear finding, my clear assessment, that there are grounds to believe that presently Rome Statute crimes are being committed in Darfur by both the Sudanese armed forces and the Rapid Support Forces and affiliated groups,” Khan said.

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“The alleged atrocities that have taken place in El Geneina form a central line of investigations that my office is pursuing at this current moment,” he told the 15-member Council. “We are collecting a very significant body of material, information and evidence that is relevant to those particular crimes.”

Reuters last year chronicled ethnically targeted violence committed in West Darfur. In hundreds of interviews with Reuters, survivors described horrific scenes of bloodletting in El Geneina and along the 30-km (18-mile) route from the city to the border with Chad as people fled.

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Between 10,000 and 15,000 people were killed in El Geneina last year in ethnic violence by the RSF and allied Arab militia, according to a U.N. report seen by Reuters earlier this month.

In December the United States formally determined that warring parties in Sudan committed war crimes and that the RSF and allied militias had also perpetrated crimes against humanity as well as ethnic cleansing.

The war has left nearly half of Sudan’s 49 million people needing aid, while more than 7.5 million people have fled their homes.

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By MICHELLE NICHOLS

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