Sudan and the power(lessness) of the ICC

Three weeks ago fighting erupted in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, between General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the armed forces and in effect the country's president, and his deputy and leader of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemeti. This podcast by our partners at Asymmetrical Haircuts brings two experts, Rebecca Hamilton, law professor at the American University, Washington DC, and Tajedin Abdalla Adam, a Darfuri analyst and country manager at Internews Europe. They explain how the current violence is deeply rooted in Darfur, a region in Western Sudan which has been investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for 18 years. Both generals worked together in Darfur in order to enforce a campaign that the ICC prosecutor has qualified as genocide. Both acted together to oust Omar al-Bashir in 2019 who had ruled over Sudan for 30 years and is an ICC indictee. Now they are fighting to death. And ICC suspects, including Bashir, appear to be out of jail thanks to the current chaos. “What we see today in Khartoum is effectively the same as what started as a campaign to fight Darfur rebels, burn villages and cause mayhem. It’s a bit like chicken came home to roost,” says Tajedin Abdalla Adam. “Every relevant player has blood on their hands” and no one has an interest in having someone testify in The Hague. Yet the ICC has remained quite timid while the extension of the current fighting into Darfur may fall under its jurisdiction.

Sudan's Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces commander, General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo (Hemedti)
© Ashraf Shazly / AFP
1 min 42Approximate reading time

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In April fighting erupted in Sudan’s capital Khartoum between the army and the paramilitaries. Civilians have been caught in between. Many foreigners have been evacuated and thousands are on the move to escape the conflict.

On the podcast, we have covered Sudan in the context of the referral of Darfur to the International Criminal Court way back in 2005. Now there’s a case in The Hague, that of Abad al Rahman, known as Ali Kushayb. You can check the details here.

To understand what is happening now and what the Darfur roots are of the current fighting, we turned to two great experts. Rebecca Hamilton is a law professor at the American University in Washington DC. Tajedin Abdalla Adam is a Darfuri analyst who has experience of war crimes cases.  They helped with answering all our basic questions.

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This podcast has been published as part of a partnership between and Asymmetrical Haircuts, a podcast on international justice produced from The Hague by journalists Janet Anderson and Stephanie van den Berg, who retain full control and independence over the contents of the podcast.

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