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HRW blasts Sudan court for failing to prosecute Darfur war crimes

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] accused Sudan's Special Criminal Court on the Events in Darfur [backgrounder] of failing to accomplish its mission of prosecuting war crimes, in a briefing paper [text] released Thursday. In a press release [text], a senior HRW counsel said the court has only prosecuted petty offenses while failing to address the widespread and ongoing human rights abuses taking place in Sudan's Darfur region [JURIST news archive]. The report blames the court's inadequacy on vague Sudanese laws governing war crimes and "command responsibility" of superior officers, other laws that grant immunity to military officers, and on the alleged harassment of victims who complain and failures to investigate such reports. The report further alleges that trials are often held in a single day without the presence of defense counsel or witnesses.

The court was created by Sudan [JURIST report] last June after Sudan opposed sending its citizens abroad to defend against charges brought by the International Criminal Court [official website], which is also investigating alleged human rights abuses in Darfur [ICC materials]. Last month, UN Human Rights Commissioner Louise Arbor pressed the ICC to aggressively prosecute accused Darfur war criminals [JURIST report]. IRIN News has more.

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