Khartoum, Jul 14 (EFE) – The United States welcomed the International Criminal Court’s probe into war crimes in Sudan as a war between the East African nation’s military factions rages, officials said on Friday.
Sudan is in the midst of one of its worst crises in recent history following a violent power struggle between the regular army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) over a failure to reach an agreement to form a unified army.
More than 3,000 people have been killed since the conflict began and some 3 million have been displaced since clashes between the military and RSF erupted on Apr. 15.
“The United States applauds the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor’s July 13 announcement that alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the current fighting may be subject to ICC investigation and prosecution and that the Prosecutor’s office has commenced focused investigations on recent events,” the US embassy in Khartoum said in a statement.
“Let this be a message to all who commit atrocities, in Sudan and elsewhere, that such crimes are an affront to humanity,” the US statement added. “We urge all states to cooperate with the ICC to deliver the justice promised to the people of Darfur.”
ICC prosecutor Karim Khan told the United Nations Security Council on Thursday the investigation includes recent allegations that the RSF ordered the killing of 87 ethnic Masalits, whose bodies were found in a mass grave.
“The situation in Darfur is deeply disturbing,” US Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis said during Thursday’s security council briefing. “We hear credible reports of mass violence by the Rapid Support Forces – the RSF – and allied forces, including horrific forms of sexual violence, killings based on ethnicity, and attacks that target civilians.”
Some Sudanese authorities, including Darfur Governor Mini Arko Minawi, had already urged the ICC to investigate alleged “crimes” committed during the ongoing war.
The ICC has been investigating crimes against humanity in Sudan’s Darfur region since 2005.
The war in Darfur from 2003 to 2008 left at least 300,000 dead.
Former Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir, who was removed from power in 2019, and several of his military heavyweights face ICC charges for alleged crimes against humanity and genocide in connection with that Darfur conflict, which involved the so-called Janjaweed militias, some of whom now operate under the RSF.
The ICC has requested the extradition of Al Bashir on several occasions, but despite Khartoum’s commitment, the extradition has never happened. The former dictator remains detained in a military hospital after being indicted in Sudan on several charges, including illicit enrichment.
So far, only one Sudanese commander known as Ali Kushayb, who a year after the fall of Al Bashir voluntarily surrendered in the Central African Republic, is facing trial at the ICC.EFE