ICC prosecutor initiates Darfur cases

Today Mr. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), will take evidence to the Court’s Pre-Trial Chamber detailing widespread attacks and crimes committed against the civilian population in Darfur.

“This is a historic step it brings the court to life in Darfur and is a vital acknowledgement of the heinousness of the crimes. Victims have been waiting for progress since the investigation was opened on 6 June 2005”, says Lutz Oette, REDRESS’ Advisor on Sudan. .

The International Community has a responsibility to collaborate with the Court to ensure that indictees are transferred to the Court and victims and witnesses are protected from reprisals.”

Actors on the ground say that the Court should be providing more information in Arabic and should have a more visible presence within Sudan. This would help to prevent mis-information about the Court and allay the concerns of victims and witnesses to cooperate with the Office of the Prosecutor. Also, victims have a right to participate in the proceedings and claim reparations, but there is too little information about how they can exercise their rights.

The ICC won’t resonate with victims unless it is made tangible. Today’s step by the Prosecutor is so important but it must be followed up with concrete actions in Sudan.

REDRESS is launching A Guide to the International Criminal Court in Sudan”, in March. The Guide was developed in close collaboration with Sudanese partners responding to requests for more information about the Court’s work in the Sudanese Context.

REDRESS calls upon the Prosecutor to continue his investigation, ensuring coverage of a representative range of crimes, including killings, rape and torture. The Prosecutor should not shy away from investigating higher echelons of command responsibility.

REDRESS calls upon all States to cooperate with the ICC in carrying out arrests and in affording protection to victims and witnesses at risk.

REDRESS, the international NGO that promotes victims’ rights has been campaigning for the rights of victims to be at the forefront and mandate of the ICC since well before the Rome Statute was adopted in 1998. http://www.redress.org