But there is little evidence that the threat of prosecution is a meaningful deterrent to regimes like the one in Sudan. The existence of an international criminal tribunal for the Balkans—and even explicit threats of prosecution—did not stop Slobodan Milosevic from cleansing the Albanian population of Kosovo. The Rwandan government engaged in several bloody reprisals against Hutu civilians even after the United Nations set up a tribunal to investigate the earlier genocide. And the existence of a tribunal in Rwanda appears to have done nothing to staunch the bloodletting in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.The LA Times ran a related article over the weekend
There is plenty of evidence, however, that Western politicians use international trials as a way to dodge tough action. It was in large part because the United States and Europe couldn’t agree on an effective military response that they created a tribunal for the Balkans. The international court for Rwanda, too, was as much therapy for a shamed world as it was a meaningful response to that region’s continuing crisis. Time and again, the West has shown itself willing to spend millions on lawyers and judges after the fact but far less inclined to take risks to stop slaughters in progress.
If politicians can deploy pledges of support for trials to deflect pressure for intervention, the international justice campaign may actually be doing today’s victims a disservice. Already, the public debate has shifted from how the outside world should prevent further bloodletting in Sudan to how the crimes there should be prosecuted.
Lawmakers and diplomats said the U.S.-European dispute over the ICC, as well as Russian and Chinese objections to imposing sanctions on the government of Sudan, have created a bottleneck that could delay U.N. action for weeks — at a time when an estimated 320 people are dying in Darfur each day.The US continues to push for any trials to be held in Africa.
The Telegraph reports that as many as 4 million people may be at risk of starvation.
In the introduction to its latest human rights report, the State Department reports
Despite the Government's repeated commitments to refrain from further violence in Darfur, the atrocities continued. Government and government-supported militias known as the Jinjaweed routinely attacked civilian villages. Typically, the Jinjaweed, often in concert with regular government forces, conducted attacks under cover of military aerial support. In September, after carefully reviewing a detailed study conducted by independent experts covering the experience of more than 1,100 refugees, Secretary of State Colin Powell concluded that genocide had been committed against the people of Darfur, saying that "Genocide has been committed in Darfur and that the Government of Sudan and Jinjaweed bear responsibility and that genocide may still be occurring."The section on Sudan is available here.
Government forces in that region routinely killed, injured, and displaced civilians, and destroyed clinics and dwellings intentionally during offensive operations. There were confirmed reports that government-supported militia also intentionally attacked civilians, looted their possessions, and destroyed their villages.
Human Rights Watch released this statement
New eyewitness accounts from Darfur of rapes, torture and mutilation by government-backed militias underscore how the U.N. Security Council must take urgent action to protect civilians and punish the perpetrators, Human Rights Watch said today.And in semi-related news, nine Bangladeshi U.N. peacekeepers were killed in an ambush in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday.
Last week, eyewitnesses in South Darfur told Human Rights Watch how government-backed Janjaweed militia attacked villages in the Labado area in December and January, and singled out young women and girls for rape. Male relatives who protested were beaten, stripped naked, tied to trees and forced to watch the rape of the women and girls. In some cases, the men were then branded with a hot knife as a mark of their humiliation.