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UPDATE ~ Powell says genocide committed in Darfur

[JURIST] As expected, Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday morning that genocide has been committed in Darfur. From Powell's statement:

Since the US became aware of atrocities occurring in Sudan, we have been reviewing the Genocide Convention and the obligations it places on the Government of Sudan.

In July, we launched a limited investigation by sending a team to refugee camps in Chad. They worked closely with the American Bar Association and the Coalition for International Justice and were able to interview 1,136 of the 2.2 million people the UN estimates have been affected by this horrible violence. Those interviews indicated:

  • A consistent and widespread pattern of atrocities (killings, rapes, burning of villages) committed by jinjaweid and government forces against non-Arab villagers;
  • Three-fourths (74%) of those interviewed reported that the Sudanese military forces were involved in the attacks;
  • Villages often experienced multiple attacks over a prolonged period before they were destroyed by burning, shelling or bombing, making it impossible for villagers to return.

    When we reviewed the evidence compiled by our team, along with other information available to the State Department, we concluded that genocide has been committed in Darfur and that the Government of Sudan and the jinjaweid bear responsibility -- and genocide may still be occurring....

    We believe in order to confirm the true nature, scope and totality of the crimes our evidence reveals, a full-blown and unfettered investigation needs to occur. Sudan is a contracting party to the Genocide Convention and is obliged under the Convention to prevent and to punish acts of genocide. To us, at this time, it appears that Sudan has failed to do so.

    Article VIII of the Genocide Convention provides that Contracting Parties "may call upon the competent organs of the United Nations to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article III."

    Today, the US. is calling on the UN to initiate a full investigation. To this end, the US. will propose that the next UN Security Council Resolution on Sudan request a UN investigation into all violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law that have occurred in Darfur, with a view to ensuring accountability.
  • Read Powell's full statement. The State Department has also released this report: Documenting Atrocities in Darfur. AP has more.

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