The International Criminal Court’s trial of Ali Kosheib, or Kushayb, will open on April 5, 2022, and offers the first opportunity to see a leader face prosecution for massive crimes committed in Darfur nearly 20 years ago, Human Rights Watch said.
Human Rights Watch issued a question-and-answer document and a video ahead of the trial.
“Kosheib’s trial is a long-awaited chance for victims and communities terrorized by the notorious Janjaweed militia and government forces in Darfur to see a leader held to account,” said Elise Keppler, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch. “In the face of steep odds and no other credible options, the ICC is serving as the crucial court of last resort for Darfuris.”
The video focuses on the significance of the trial and on what else is needed by the Sudanese authorities to advance justice for atrocities committed in Darfur. The question-and-answer document covers:
“For all these years, those implicated in serious crimes and other abuses in Darfur have largely suffered no consequences, and in some instances, have even been rewarded,” Keppler said. “Would-be abusers should take note that they can end up in court even if it is slow going. Now, Sudanese authorities should surrender the remaining fugitives, including former president Omar al-Bashir, so victims have the opportunity to also see them held to account.”
Ali Kosheib, or Kushayb, is the nom de guerre of Ali Mohammed Ali, identified by the International Criminal Court (ICC) as Ali Mohammed Ali Abd–Al-Rahman. Kosheib is believed to have been the principal leader of the Janjaweed militias in the Wadi Saleh area of West Darfur. He also held commanding positions in Sudanese government auxiliary forces, the Popular Defense Forces and Central Reserve Police.
In early 2003, the Janjaweed worked alongside the Sudanese government forces during its armed conflict with rebel groups to carry out a systematic campaign of “ethnic cleansing.” The campaign targeted civilians from African Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa ethnic groups, from which the members of the rebel groups were drawn. Attacking from the air and land, Sudanese government forces and allied militias killed, raped, and forcibly displaced more than 2 million people from their homes and land. The Sudanese government recruited, armed, and trained the Janjaweed forces.