Daily Darfur

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Daily Darfur

Kofi Annan is calling on the Security Council to take swift action on Darfur and is urging that it impose sanctions on Sudan.

Meanwhile Sen. Sam Brownback is calling on Annan to do something about Darfur or else resign
"We cannot wait any longer for credible action in Darfur," Brownback said Tuesday. "The time is now for Secretary-General Kofi Annan to lead or leave. Inaction will ensure that tens of thousands more Darfurians will die and the sequel to `Hotel Rwanda' will occur before our very eyes. ... The toleration of genocide will mark us failures in the history books."
The Washington Post reports that
Sudanese officials said Tuesday that they felt vindicated by a U.N. investigation that found that atrocities in Sudan's western region of Darfur did not amount to genocide.
Others are not so pleased
Africa Action today rejected the conclusion of a United Nations (UN) Special Commission report, which this week declares that a pattern of government-sponsored killings, displacement and other forms of violence in Darfur, Sudan, does not constitute genocide.
And the State Department is sticking by its original decision that what is taking place is indeed genocide
I do want to say that we stand by the conclusion that we reached that genocide had been occurring in Darfur, and we think that the continued accumulation of facts on the ground, the facts that are reported here in the Commission's report, supports that view, that conclusion that we've reached and continue to hold.
The key section from the UN Commission's report can be found on pages 124-133. After a few pages about the legal definitions and requirements for genocide (and a discussion as to whether "tribes" are to be considered a protected group - they determined that they were) the conclusion was that "intent" to destroy any protected group could not be proven - or rather that "there are other more indicative elements that show the lack of genocidal intent" [emphasis added]
The fact that in a number of villages attacked and burned by both militias and Government forces the attackers refrained from exterminating the whole population that had not fled, but instead selectively killed groups of young men, is an important element. A telling example is the attack of 22 January 2004 on Wadi Saleh, a group of 25 villages inhabited by about 11 000 Fur.

According to credible accounts of eye witnesses questioned by the Commission, after occupying the villages the Government Commissioner and the leader of the Arab militias that had participated in the attack and burning, gathered all those who had survived or had not managed to escape into a large area. Using a microphone they selected 15 persons (whose name they read from a written list), as well as 7 omdas, and executed them on the spot. They then sent all elderly men, all boys, many men and all women to a nearby village, where they held them for some time, whereas they executed 205 young villagers, who they asserted were rebels (Torabora). According to male witnesses interviewed by the Commission and who were among the survivors, about 800 persons were not killed (most young men of those spared by the attackers were detained for some time in the Mukjar prison).

514. This case clearly shows that the intent of the attackers was not to destroy an ethnic group as such, or part of the group. Instead, the intention was to murder all those men they considered as rebels, as well as forcibly expel the whole population so as to vacate the villages and prevent rebels from hiding among, or getting support from, the local population.
After providing a few more examples such as this, the report states
On the basis of the above observations, the Commission concludes that the Government of Sudan has not pursued a policy of genocide.
So apparently the Sudanese government's murderous campaign is not "genocide" as it does not appear to have been focused on utterly destroying a protected group. The fact that the government and the Janjaweed only killed certain "parts" of the group shows there was no intent to destroy the entire group.

Now, the Genocide Convention states that
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
As the report states, according to international law
[T]he intent to destroy a group “in part” requires the intention to destroy “a considerable number of individuals” or “a substantial part”, but not necessarily a “very important part” of the group.
The section detailing violations of human rights and humanitarian law contains several examples of men being targeted for execution and NGOs and the media have, for months, been reporting that mainly men were targeted during attacks and that many of the refugee camps were filled with mostly women and children. The Sudanese government and Janjaweed have been targeting men, mainly because men are the ones most likely to join the rebel movements.

"Men" (or even "gender") is not a protected designation within the Genocide Convention, but the targeted killing of men certainly ought to qualify as "deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part" because it would undoubtedly have the effect of "preventing births within the group."

The government and the Janjaweed may very well be targeting men for military reasons and may not have a specific "intent" to destroy a protected group, but as the report also makes clear, there is a legal difference between "intent" and "motive"
Of course, this special intent must not be confused with motive, namely the particular reason that may induce a person to engage in criminal conduct. For instance, in the case of genocide a person intending to murder a set of persons belonging to a protected group, with the specific intent of destroying the group (in whole or in part), may be motivated, for example, by the desire to appropriate
the goods belonging to that group or set of persons, or by the urge to take revenge for prior attacks by members of that groups, or by the desire to please his superiors who despise that group. From the viewpoint of criminal law, what matters is not the motive, but rather whether or not there exists the requisite special intent to destroy a group.
Does the government of Sudan have a specific "intent" to destroy a protected group? It is nearly impossible to say. The sad fact is that you can never really know until they have already killed such a large portion of the population that one is able to infer intent simply from the actions.

But in my view, targeting and killing men on the grounds that they present a potential military target has the inevitable effect of creating conditions that could bring about the destruction of a group. And that seems to me to be a textbook definition of genocide.

That said, the debate over whether it is genocide is, at this point, irrelevant. As the report documents, massive human rights violations have taken place and continue to take place. And such crimes are just as much a violation of international law as genocide. The violence needs to be stopped and those responsible need to be punished.

The lack of a genocide declaration is no excuse for inaction.

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