International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim Khan announced Thursday that the court has opened an investigation into human rights offenses committed by the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Security Forces (RSF) 90 days after the conflict began in Sudan. Khan appeared before the UN Security Council on Thursday to make the announcement.
Khan explained that ICC investigators are following up on claims of attacks on civilians, the targeting of ethnic minorities, violence against children, sexual violence as well as broader humanitarian law violations. Khan pleaded with the two warring factions in Sudan to cease the violations, stating, “Attacks against schools, against humanitarian supplies, against humanitarian facilities must cease because the harm that these types of activities are causing are so profound, they go beyond words.”
Khan told those gathered:
I think as the sky darkens over Darfur and in fact the people of Sudan, we must hold onto the light that justice can bring. Not because of some blind hope or blind faith but steered by determination, focus, and a decision. A decision to change things that we’ve seen in the past.
The conflict in Sudan, which broke out in April, has displaced over 800,000 people within Sudan and an additional 220,000 who have fled the country. International aid groups and UN experts have released reports detailing atrocities spanning mass graves, sexual violence and civilian attacks. The fighting has been particularly fierce in the Western region of Darfur, Sudan. In his comments Thursday, Khan referenced reports of “looting and judicial killings, extrajudicial killings, burnings of homes, and also allegations in North Darfur.”
Related to the current conflict in Sudan, Khan also referred to the ongoing ICC prosecution against Ali Muhammad Ali Abd–Al-Rahman, also known as Ali Kushayb, who served as the leader of the Janjaweed, a Sudanese military group operating primarily out of Darfur. Abd-Al-Rahman faces 31 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.