ICC Sudan Arrest: Hopes for Accountability for Sexual Violence Crimes

One of war criminals accused of leading mass rapes in Darfur was arrested this week. The sexual violence and mass rapes committed by the Sudan former regime leaders and militias was unprecedented in the region and the world in the 21st century. The International Criminal Court (ICC) announced on Tuesday, June 9th 2020 the arrest of Ali Kushayb, one of the wanted war criminals for crimes against humanity in Darfur in the period from 2003-2004. “ The warrants of arrest for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Darfur (Sudan) were issued in this case on 27 April 2007. On 9 June 2020, Ali Kushayb was transferred to the ICC’s custody on account of the ICC arrest warrant.’ said the ICC statement. Human rights groups estimations of thousands of women being raped in Darfur fall short to count the daily attacks on women and girls in the region since 2003 until today. The use of rape as weapon was documented and counted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) as part of the war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide crimes committed by the former regime leaders. Since 2009 the court was calling for cooperation from the international community to arrest the 6 wanted allegedly war criminals including Al Bashir. The trials of all six wanted war criminals will include crimes of sexual violence. Women in Sudan and the world must stand together to ensure that sexual violence criminals are being charges and punished. The trials of these criminals will mark history for achieving justice for systemic large scale sexual violence. Ali Kushayb arrest warrant included alleged crimes of “rapes and outrages upon the personal dignity of women and girls.” The warrant identified these crimes as” of a systematic or widespread nature.” These crimes took place in the towns of Kodoom, Bindisi, Mukjar, Arawala and surrounding areas in 2003 and 2004 against the African tribes of Fur, Zaghawa and Masalit. In the case and under the same list of crimes there is arrest warrants against Ahmed Haroun, a leader in the former regime ruling party. Omer Al Bashir the former president of Sudan and his defense minister Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein are wanted by the court for crimes that includes “subjected thousands of civilian women – belonging primarily to the said groups – to acts of rape.”After the fall of Al Bashir regime in April 2019, all of the ousted regime leaders wanted by the ICC were arrested in Sudan. But the future of their cases in the international court remains unknown. The Sudanese government were not able to answer questions about the possibilities to hand these wanted criminals to the ICC despite of continuous international demands for such a step. The arrest of Ali Kushayb is bringing hope of justice for thousands of Sudanese women victims of sexual violence in Darfur and other conflict areas. But we must ensure that all criminals are being tried either those wanted by the ICC or those who committed crimes that was not investigated or tried yet. Ending impunity on crimes of sexual violence in Sudan is one of the main challenges for the Sudanese government. Baring in mind that some of the military council members leading the country now; including Burhan and Hamiditi- Janjweed leader- are known for their war crimes in Darfur and Nuba mountains. We call on the Sudanese government to live to its obligations as post revolution authority and cooperate fully with the ICC to ensure the trial of the former regime leaders for their war crimes and especially crimes of sexual violence. We call on the ICC to take all measures to ensure that the crimes of sexual violence are fully investigated and put those criminals accountable. The court must use all its resources to bring justice for thousands of victims of sexual violence. We call on the international community to fully cooperate with the Sudanese government and the court and push for justice for the crimes of sexual violence in Sudan and provide protection for the victims and witnesses. We call on women rights groups and feminist groups to stand in solidarity with Sudanese women as they demand justice for sexual violence crimes.