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ICC Prosecutor: Crimes Continue Against Civilians in Darfur

The chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court says crimes are continuing against civilians in Darfur refugee camps despite efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told the U.N. Security Council Friday that rape and other such gender crimes remain unabated in the Darfur region of Sudan.

Quoting a U.N. report issued last month he said acts of sexual violence, particularly against women in displaced person camps, has been attributed to men in military uniforms. The military has denied the allegations, saying the women were involved in consensual relationships with the soldiers. "Of even greater concern, the [U.N.] Independent Expert notes victims are increasingly discouraged from reporting rape and sexual violence, because they know they will not benefit from remedial actions. Rapes are not stopping; reporting is stopping," he said.

Moreno-Ocampo said there is a need for an updated and comprehensive report from the United Nations on the current situation in the camps and villages in order to know the true extent of the sexual violence.

The ICC has issued arrest warrants in three separate cases relating to war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur. The first, issued three years ago, are against Ahmad Harun a Sudanese state minister and Ali Kushayb, a Janjaweed militia leader. Last year, the court issued a warrant for Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir. And the third case is against three rebel commanders for an attack that killed 12 African Union peacekeepers in Haskanita in 2007.

Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo told the Security Council in his semi-annual briefing that the government of Sudan has failed to cooperate with the court and turn over the suspects, particularly Ahmad Harun. "Ahmad Harun is currently governor of South Kordofan. He should be arrested before he commits new crimes in his new position," he said.

Sudan's U.N. Ambassador Abdalmahmood Mohammad dismissed the suggestion Harun should be arrested, saying he is a very honest statesman and peacemaker. "We are proud of Ahmad Harun. He is one of the greatest sons of the Sudan. He is doing a great job for the country. We congratulate and salute Ahmad Harun," he said.

Speaking after a closed meeting of the Security Council, Mexican Ambassador Claude Heller, who is president of the council this month, said the members agree that the government of Sudan should comply with the International Criminal Court's arrest warrants.

On Monday, the Security Council will continue its discussion of the situation in Sudan and Darfur where the U.N. says fighting and related violence has killed up to 300,000 people and displaced nearly three million others since 2003.

The council will be briefed by African Union-U.N. Joint Special Representative Ibrahim Gambari and A.U.-U.N. Joint Chief Mediator for Darfur Djibril Bassolé, as well as former South African President Thabo Mbeki who heads the A.U. High-Level Panel on Darfur and Haile Menkarios, the U.N.'s Special Representative in Sudan.