The Darfur Bar Association (DBA) and the displaced in Darfur have criticised recent remarks by Unamid head Mohamed Ibn Chambas about the Special Courts for Crimes committed in Darfur.
Lawyer Mohamed Abdallah El Doma, who is chairman of the DBA, told Radio Dabanga that the way of working of the Special Courts for Darfur is contrary to the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD). The DDPD stipulates that the Special Court is to be established in consultation with the parties involved, in the presence of observers.
El Doma referred to statements of Ibn Chambas during a press conference held in Khartoum last Thursday. He considers Ibn Chambas announcement that he is negotiating with the government to bring in observers for the Courts “surprising”. “The Courts began its work a long time ago. It issued several rulings contrary to true justice without the presence of any observer.”
The DBA chairman noted that “although the DDPD has reached its final phase, Ibn Chambas says he is currently negotiating with the government about observers – while he is fully aware that the government is not serious when negotiating with international organisations. Ibn Chambas’ negotiating to bring in observers is a waste of time.” El Doma stressed that the presence of observers will not change the situation. “The Special Criminal Courts of Darfur simply violates the Doha agreement and its provisions for true justice.”
Omda Ahmed Ateem, the coordinator of the North Darfur camps commented that the Darfur Courts were established by the government itself “in order to demolish the Darfur issue through the trial of innocent Darfuris, including displaced people and activists. Not to achieve justice in Darfur”.
Ateem considered Ibn Chambas’ recognition of the Courts is “in itself a proof of his failure to become acquainted with the legal issues of Darfur. In this way the head of Unamid will not bring any justice to the victims of the Khartoum regime in Darfur, even if he brings in observers.
“Justice in Darfur will not be achieved unless Unamid is replaced, or its mandate changed, so that they will be able to protect the civilians first, stop the daily killings, the destruction by aerial bombardments, and the assaults of armed militias against civilians.”
According to the camp coordinator, real justice will be achieved when the International Criminal Court begins the trials of the indicted President Omar Al Bashir, his defence minister Abdul Rahim Hussein, the Governor of North Kordofan, Ahmed Haroun, and militia leader Ali Kushayb.
On 7 June 2005, one day after the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced the opening of investigations into the events in Darfur, the Sudanese authorities established the Special Criminal Court on the Events in Darfur to demonstrate the government’s ability to handle prosecutions domestically. Several people have been tried, but international organisations have pointed to the fact that human rights defenders were never allowed to attend, and the people tried were usually “ordinary citizens”. The DDPD, signed in 2011, stipulated the formation of a Special Court for Darfur, and the institution was re-established.
The DDPD was finalised at the All Darfur Stakeholders Conference in May 2011, in Doha, Qatar. On 14 July 2011, the Government of Sudan and the Liberation and Justice Movement, led by Dr Tijani Sese, signed a protocol agreement committing themselves to the Document, which is now the framework for the comprehensive peace process in Darfur.
‘Unamid will continue to protect the civilians of Darfur’: Ibn Chambas (23 January 2014)
UN independent expert: ‘progress made but major challenges remain’ (11 February 2013)