Sudan

Sudan: UN has ruled out genocide in Darfur

A UN report has ruled out genocide in Darfur. It declared that Sudan's government and its militia systematically abused civilians in Darfur - but it claimed that the Khartoum Government has not pursued genocide.
It said those responsible should be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

A report that was initiated in October by the UN Security Council, had asked Secretary General Kofi Annan to set up a commission to investigate alleged human rights violations in Darfur, was issued yesterday..

Where genocide is declared, signatories to a UN convention are legally obliged to act to end it. Genocide is defined as, the systematic and planned extermination of an entire national, racial, political, or ethnic group

The report also said rebel forces in Sudan's western region had committed serious human rights violations.

More than 70,000 people have been killed and two million more forced to flee their homes in Darfur since February 2003.

The Sudanese Government denies arming the pro-Arab Janjaweed militias and blames Darfur's rebel groups for starting the conflict.

"The commission found that [Sudan's] government forces and militias conducted indiscriminate attacks," the report by the five-member commission said.

It said those included "killing of civilians, enforced disappearances, destruction of villages, rape and other forms of sexual violence, pillaging and forced displacement, throughout Darfur".

The commission concluded that the Sudanese government "has not pursued a policy of genocide", but added that the crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Darfur might be no less serious.

It said some individuals - including government officials - may have committed "acts with genocidal intent". However, no names were given.

The commission also found evidence that rebel forces were responsible for serious human rights violations "which may amount to war crimes".

The commission recommended the situation in Darfur should be referred to the ICC, founded to try cases of genocide and war crimes.

However, the US, which has already said genocide took place in Darfur, would rather see a separate tribunal set up. Parts of the report were leaked in advance, early yesterday, by the Sudanese government.

GENOCIDE

The term was coined in 1943 by the Jewish-Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin who combined the Greek word "genos" (race or tribe) with the Latin word "cide" (to kill).

After witnessing the horrors of the Holocaust - in which every member of his family except his brother and himself was killed - Dr Lemkin campaigned to have genocide recognised as a crime under international law.

His efforts gave way to the adoption of the UN Convention on Genocide in December 1948, which came into effect in January 1951.