US group: Sudan should face war crimes charges

AP News
Posted: Apr 03, 2013 11:36 AM

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A U.S. based advocacy group alleged in a new report Wednesday that Sudan's government has committed war crimes since mid-2011 in two of its southern states near the border with South Sudan.

The Enough Project said that two years of eyewitness reports, photos, video and satellite imagery present strong evidence that Sudan should be referred to the International Criminal Court and that the U.N. should open a commission of inquiry.

The group said it has documented the deliberate burning of nearly 300 square miles (756 square kilometers) of farms, orchards and grasslands for grazing cattle, and the deliberate destruction of 42 villages in the states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Residents there are more aligned with South Sudan than Sudan. When those two countries peacefully separated in 2011 following decades of war the residents found themselves on the Sudan side of the new border.

Residents in Sudan's Nuba Mountains region have faced aerial bombardment from Sudanese bombers for more than a year in addition to the deliberate burnings.

A spokesman for the government of Sudan could not immediately be reached for comment.

Sudan's leader, Omar al-Bashir, already stands accused by the ICC of genocide and war crimes for violence carried out in the western Sudan region of Darfur. He has never been arrested despite travel to other African countries. If the Enough Project's push for more international charges to be filed comes to fruition, it would appear unlikely to change the realities on the ground for Bashir or the conflict.

Jonathan Hutson, a spokesman for the Enough Project and its affiliated Satellite Sentinel Project, said that it would be wrong to give up the pursuit of justice.

"Justice demands that the international community investigate evidence of ongoing atrocities by the Khartoum regime against its own people. Consider Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda, also indicted years ago for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Many believed he would never be hauled into court. Last month, he surrendered; he is now in The Hague, facing those charges," Hutson said.