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Darfur displaced community leaders: Justice is top priority

March 17 - 2020 KUTUM / NYALA / ZALINGEI / EL GENEINA
A elder from Kassab camp for the displaced in Kutum, North Darfur (File photo: Albert Gonzalez Farran / Unamid)
A elder from Kassab camp for the displaced in Kutum, North Darfur (File photo: Albert Gonzalez Farran / Unamid)

Prominent leaders of camps for displaced people in Darfur have reiterated their demands for justice as a cornerstone for any sustainable peace process in the region. They also emphasised the necessity of transferring those indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) including deposed dictator Omar El Bashir to The Hague to stand trial.

On Monday, as a part of the transitional justice programme, Radio Dabanga interviewed four key figures among the displaced community in South, North, Central, and West Darfur camps. In an interview broadcast on Monday, they all confirmed that their top priority at this stage is justice and that the ICC indictees must be handed over to the ICC.

‘All we as displaced people ask for is that those responsible for the atrocities in Darfur must be prosecuted…’ – Sheikh El Tahir Ismail

The head of Kassab camp for displaced people in Kutum, North Darfur, Sheikh El Tahir Ismail, told Radio Dabanga that the Sudanese legal system is incompetent to try those responsible for the crimes committed in Darfur. “Those for whom the ICC issued arrest warrants must be handed over to the ICC,” he said. “For justice is the basis of life, all we as displaced people ask for is that those responsible for the atrocities in Darfur must be prosecuted,” he added.

On the concept of transitional justice, the sheikh said that they understand transitional justice as the prosecution of those responsible for the crimes committed and reparation for those affected by the war. He further stressed that there is a need for educational programmes on transitional justice, such as workshops and training, so that victims can realise their rights.

“We do not advocate conflict; rather we want fair and just reconciliation based on facts on the ground. For these reasons, first, the alleged perpetrators must be tried and then the reconciliation process can start,” he added.

‘The Darfur community, with their various tribes, can overcome this man-made catastrophe…’ – Sheikh Tahir Ismail

Sheikh Ismail stressed that “the Darfur community, with their various tribes, can overcome this man-made catastrophe if certain conditions can be provided,” such as political will, peace and, security. He pointed out that the government must pay attention to the fundamental role of the traditional administration and community leaders in the peace and justice process.

“No solutions can be found unless justice is done first, and justice cannot be achieved while there is an inequality between the disputed parties,,” he concluded.

South Darfur

The coordinator of the camps for displaced people in South Darfur, Hussein Abusharati, told Radio Dabanga that to them as victims, justice means prosecution of the alleged perpetrators, fair development, equality, and reparation for victims.

“I am not very well aware of the transitional justice concept, but if it means prosecution of war criminals and reparation for victims in Darfur, it is highly appreciated,” he said. He added that the displaced people have no problem if transitional justice means an acknowledgment that the old regime was awfully unjust, and now the transitional government wants to achieve justice.

‘As long as there is no reliable, competent, and independent legal system in Sudan, those alleged perpetrators must be tried outside Sudan. When there is a democracy, and competent judiciary system then we can accept notional trials in Sudan…’ – Hussein Abusharati

He demands that deposed dictator Al Bashir and other indictees be handed over to the ICC. “As long as there is no reliable, competent, and independent legal system in Sudan, those alleged perpetrators must be tried outside Sudan. When there is a democracy, and competent judiciary system then we can accept notional trials in Sudan,” he said.

Abusharati explained that despite the revolution and the recent change in Sudan, “nothing changes that much. For example, look at the recent violence in El Geneina, Manawashi Mershing, and the June 3 massacre, what happened?

“As Darfuris, we have no problem with anybody. Our demand to hand over Al Bashir comes from our love of and pursuit of justice, rather than hate”. He said that there are families that have been wiped-out by the war in Darfur. “For example, you may find one or two people from a family that previously consisted of 40 members. Hence the issue of justice must be looked at objectively.”.

Abusharati complained that the transitional government should have apologised to the people of Darfur. “However, none of them has come to apologies neither El Burhan nor Hemeti. Even the PM could have issued a statement of apology,” he said.

“We have no problem with anyone, our problem is with those who used power to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity and genocide. We will not stand with a criminal even if he or she is one of us.”

Central Darfur

Speaking to Radio Dabanga from Zalingei, capital of Central Darfur, El Shafee Abdallah, coordinator of the camps in the state, said that justice means reparation, prosecution of those responsible for the suffering of victims.

“Currently, our top priority is the administration of justice because it is the only way to put an end to all this suffering. Al Bashir and other indictees have to be transferred to The Hague,” he said.

‘Currently, our top priority is the administration of justice because it is the only way to put an end to all this suffering. Al Bashir and other indictees have to be transferred to The Hague’ – El Shafee Abdallah

Abdallah elaborated on three stages to achieve justice, “the first one, transferring the ICC suspected persons to The Hague. The second stage is establishing special courts for crimes committed in Darfur. The third is the reconciliation process and the issue of identity regarding foreigners who were given citizenships during the former regime.”

He explained that transitional justice has two dimensions; material and moral. “The material is related to compensation of the victims for they have lost. The moral one is about the prosecution of those responsible for the atrocities and community reconciliation.”

The displaced community leader explained that there is a need for awareness-raising and legal aid among the victims. “The social fabric in Darfur has been disintegrated due to the policies of the former regime that relied on divide and rule policy.”

West Darfur

Sheikh Mohamed El Nour, a prominent leader of the camps for displaced people in West Darfur, told Radio Dabanga that justice to them means just compensation for victims and prosecution of the crimes committed.

“I do not have much knowledge about the concept of transitional justice, but we have no problem with the term if it can achieve a satisfactory justice.” Sheikh El Nour added. “I hope transitional justice will not be just a name. it must include national and international prosecutions, reparation for victims, disarmament of militias, and expulsion of the new settlers.”

‘Reparation without justice and security means nothing’ – Sheikh Mohamed El Nour

“When they signed the Doha peace agreement, they told us it would bring justice and peace, but nothing really happened. Therefore, all rebel movements must agree on a comprehensive peace agreement.”. He explained that the top priority now is justice and security, and then reparation because reparation without justice and security means nothing.


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