Statement of ICC Prosecutor, Karim A.A. Khan QC, at opening of Trial


Madam President, Your Honours.

These are the first few days of the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan, in which millions of Muslims throughout the word, including in Sudan, abstain from food and drink between dawn and dusk. They look forward to breaking the fast in the evening, an occasion called Iftar. There has been another fast that they have been partaking, but not because of their choice, that is the fast of waiting for justice.

From that perspective, this is a momentous day. It is an Iftar of sorts for the millions of Sudanese throughout the world that have been yearning for this day to come, and for independent and impartial judges of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or the “Court”) to start a process of deliberations of hearing evidence, and weighing the evidence to assess criminal responsibility.

This of course was the first Situation referred to the ICC by the United Nations Security Council on 31 March 2005. This is the first trial arising out of that Situation, and in a critically important moment, the Council found that the Situation represented a threat to international peace and security. During the course of this trial, Madam President, Your Honours, you will see that was a very prescient and necessary and well-judged determination, with respect, by the United Nations Security Council.

The information and the allegations that were in the public domain as of 31 March 2005 included rapes against women and girls, children being targeted and attacked and abducted. Men and boys, amongst others, being executed and killed. Homes being wantonly destroyed. People fleeing with nothing. For many, their lives would never to be the same again.

On 18 September 2004, the United Nations Security Council formed and established a commission of inquiry to look at the events that were increasingly well-known. In January 2005, they reported and found at that time that there had already been, early on, one million internally displaced persons and more than 200,000 refugees. That number, tragically for so many, only burgeoned, it only increased over the coming years.

Madam President and Your Honours will hear a whole spectrum of evidence in the course of this trial in support of the 31 charges to which Mr Abd-Al-Rahman, Ali Kushayb has pleaded not guilty just now.

I’m not going to repeat all of that my learned colleagues for the Prosecution will say after me, but with your leave, I would wish to emphasise children. For far too long, far too often, they have been the invisible casualties of war, conflated with the civilian population or just ignored. But the effect on them is profound, and it remains profound and lasting. Seventeen years have gone by and those that witnessed crime, tragedy, haemorrhaging of their family life, of their village life and their community life, have grown up, but life is not the same by any metric.

An example of the scale of the tragedy for children is evidenced by a number of factors, firstly most fatalities amongst the children were those that were under five years of age. The most innocent, the most vulnerable members of humanity.

You’ll hear in the course of this trial, Madam President, Your Honours, from many witnesses, and we will do our best as the Office of the Prosecutor to highlight the effect these crimes have had on children and how children were directly targeted.

Witness P-087 gives a flavour of the tragedy that occurred. And I quote what the witness says. You will hear the witness say: “I saw two corpses; one boy was breastfeeding from his mother while she was dead. They were shot with ammunition.” And when the investigator asked for clarification about what he meant, the witness continued: “This little boy was … his mom was dead, and he was breastfeeding from her. His age should be four or five months.”

That is simply one example of the human tragedy that Your Honours will be listening to in the course of this trial and adjudicating whether it is true and whether Mr Abd-Al-Rahman is responsible for that and other crimes.

Even those that fled didn’t leave to safety. So many endured unimaginable hardship trying to flee with their lives. You’ll hear another mother describing anguish as her 10 month old child died of dehydration and malnutrition after fleeing from their home. A witness, P-0834 will say, and I quote: “My son of 10 months died while we were in Mukjar. He was sick and while fleeing I could not feed him enough. It was raining a lot and he had diarrhoea.” Many children of a young age as well as elderly people and pregnant women died during this time due to the harsh conditions they had to live under.

A young man from the village of Kaskeidi describes walking for days after an attack. He was accompanied by terrified women and children. And P-0845 will say, and I quote: “We were exhausted and extremely hungry and thirsty. Our feet were cut and swollen as we were walking barefoot. My clothes were infested with lice. The children could no longer walk, requiring them to be carried. Mothers did not have enough clothes to cover their babies.”

Again, in a snapshot, Madam President, it shows this caravan of people fleeing an attack, feet cut as they were trying to limp to some kind of safety but an absolutely uncertain, and unpredictable future.

Your Honours, there are many examples of this. Again I’m raising it deliberately to highlight the plight of families. The next example, P-0943, these are not by any stretch of the imagination, military people, combatants, or legitimate targets.

P-0943 is a mother that describes in somewhat pathetic terms, if I may be permitted to describe it in those terms, of an ability to provide shelter for the many, many young children that she was travelling with. She says and I quote: “My family and I spent three days in the forest. It was very hard. It was raining a lot and we had nowhere to go so we stayed under trees. There were Janjaweed behind us and in front of us. At this time I was with my older sister and her six children. They were all minors and my sister performs was pregnant. My brother’s wife and her four children were with us. The children were all minors. My younger brother and my mom were also with us.”

Madam President, this was a modern day exodus, this creeping tide of humanity, terrified, trying to flee with their lives. As we see around the world today, unfortunately and tragically conflicts, east and west, north and south, it’s all too easy to forget why the Security Council referred this matter to this Court. Many watching may not even remember what occurred in Darfur, and for that reason, Madam President, with your leave, I wish to show a montage of different video clips.

I’m extremely grateful in fact to my learned friend, Mr Laucci for agreeing that they be played and I want to emphasise they are not being presented for the truth of their content, it is not evidence, it is simply to provide context as to what was in the minds of the members of the Security Council that compelled such an eventful referral to this Court.

And I’ll start, if I may, with a video from Global News, which is a major Canadian broadcast. Now some of these clips may seem to be disjointed, but what they perhaps show is that by the time the Security Council referred the matter, there was ample opportunity, every opportunity, I would say, for those individuals who had guns and arms and aeroplanes to cease and desist, to put humanity first, not power, not politics and certainly not prejudice and persecution, and yet the repeated pleas from a whole variety of actors as you will see in a moment, fell tragically for a million of Sudanese and Darfuris, on deaf ears. So perhaps we could play first Global News from 2003 [viewing of the video excerpt].

Madam President, Your Honours, briefly we’ll move straight to the next clip from Darfur Now. It is a documentary produced in 2007, but it’s very clear from the documentary that the clips we’re about to show relate to 2003 and 2004. Perhaps that could be played [viewing of the video excerpt]. I will then seek to show two additional clips. They’re prepared in fact by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in 2004. The first will show just a sample, really a fleeting glimpse of the variety of means used as part of the pogroms against the Darfuri people.

You’ll see an Antonov planes dropping bombs, and then also we’ll see from the ground, the village and towns that were affected. And perhaps those two clips can be played now [viewing of the video excerpt]. You’ll see even from those few seconds the bit of the landscape of Darfur, the very often arid ground, the very frequently very simple buildings, and some of the Darfuri people that were affected. They have shown for, well, since antiquity, a remarkable resilience to work that land, to have the stamina to survive in those inclement conditions. What prized them away from their land were not the elements or the soil or the climate, it was a deliberate targeting of them for multiple reasons but principally in this case because of prejudice and persecutory reasons.

It’s not just buildings that were destroyed. People’s lives were, obviously. Your Honours will have the opportunity of hearing in the course of this trial from Darfuris themselves, and you will assess, of course, what has hit me every time I’ve interacted with Darfuris, and actually survivors throughout the world, is their dignity and remarkable resilience. This can be expressed in many different ways, but the clip I’m going to show you from a BBC panorama documentary called The New Killing Fields in November 2004 shows but one example of a very dignified and collected lady who has endured awful, awful things already and I’ll ask you to watch out, you’ll hear two words in this clip in Arabic, the subtitle underneath it, you’ll hear it in the openings of my learned friends that follow me, meaning slave and the feelings that she enunciates that because she’s black she’s viewed as less by those that are targeting her. Her life did not have value and that reason alone, the colour and the ethnicity was a reason to extinguish life from her and her communities.

Perhaps that Panorama documentary clip could be played now [viewing of the video excerpt]. There are things, matters that did not abate and people fled internally in Sudan but also in refugee camps, for example, in Chad. The next clip in fact is from the Touloum refugee camp on the border of Sudan but inside of Chad. Many that will be watching these proceedings around the world, a good number of them will be in those camps even today and I’d ask that that clip please be played. [viewing of the video excerpt].

So gradually, the murmurings that had been heard around the world and the whispers that something was not right, the broadcasts that journalists had brought to international attention finally started penetrating even the corridors of power, even the highest echelons of the United Nations. And the clip that we’ll show in a moment, we’ll see the former late Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan on 25 June 2004 underlining that what was occurring appeared to be universal crimes and that those that were committing them were put on notice that there would be accountability for what was taking place. Unfortunately, the dove of peace that you’ll see on his lapel was really more a prayer, it didn’t land in his lifetime and it hasn’t landed today. But I think this process and this trial, in addition to its core responsibility for Your Honours to assess the strength of the evidence and whether or not liability is established. It is an important moment in trying to wake peace from its slumber and move it, mobilise it into action. But perhaps that clip could be played. Thank you [viewing of the video excerpt].

Again, those words fell on deaf ears and a few months later, three months later the Security Council became seized of the Sudan Situation. The next clip is from the British Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry, and he emphasises that clearly there is widespread violations of international humanitarian law that emerged, that a commission of inquiry was required to establish the facts and that violations of international humanitarian law required justice. Perhaps, that could be played, please [viewing of the video excerpt].

By this time, casting our mind back, the ripples of concern had become much more of a movement, civil society was engaged, celebrities, actors, politicians, everybody in so many parts of the world realised action was needed. For example, the next clip is from the former Foreign Minister of Germany, Joschka Fischer, highlighting because there is no abatement, the time had come to ensure that those who were found guilty would be brought to justice and punished. Perhaps that bit could be played, please [viewing of the video excerpt]. There’s no sound on this clip but this is what was reported, also great significance is that the United Nations Commission of Inquiry for Darfur had taken up its work of investigating the severe human rights violations in Darfur, injustice must be exposed and criminals must be punished.

The UN Commission of Inquiry gave its report in January 2005. Again, no abatement, no secession of violence and we see then within a couple of months, the end of February, 28 February 2005, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour speaks herself to this very matter and perhaps we could play that clip, please [viewing of the video excerpt].

Such an unwillingness to stop, an unwillingness to comply with the norms of customary international law. The basic requirements of international humanitarian law and we have the High Commissioner for Human Rights realising the ICC is a court of last resort and that tragically in her view we had reached the end, that the only option was refer and this brought the Council into action on 31 March 2005. And that’s the last clip – if that could be played, please [viewing of the video excerpt].

So there we have it. Resolution 1593, the Security Council bound together what they did in 1992 in establishing the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and 1994, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, in deciding that justice was an important aspect to maintain international peace and security in referring this grave matter to this Court.

Eleven countries voted in favour of that resolution. And if I may be permitted, just to read those out, Argentina, Benin, Denmark, France, Greece, Japan, Philippines, Romania, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Tanzania, and I think it’s to the very great credit that a permanent member of the Council that is not a State Party, namely, the Russian Federation, voted in favour of this referral. The Russian Federation in 2005 voted in favour of justice. And whilst Algeria, Brazil, China and the United States abstained, in their statements they spoke in favour of the Court.

No country, not one, voted against this resolution.

UN Security Council adopts Resolution 1593 (2005) referring the Situation in Darfur to the ICC Prosecutor in 2005. Credit: UN Photo/Even Schneider

So I think it was clear from any vantage point that the referral was thought to be a very good thing to get to the truth and to try to improve the situation.

Over these 17 years, I think the victims I’ve spoken to, even before I became Prosecutor, have had really remarkable patience, and very often I find unbelievable belief that justice would come even in moments when it seemed an absolutely in vain hope.

In my view, Madam President, Your Honours, this trial will begin to vindicate the decision of the Security Council to refer this matter to Your Honours and to this Court.

Now if I may be permitted to zoom in a little bit on the cares regarding Mr Abd-Al-Rahman. Mr Abd-Al-Rahman, also known as Ali Kushayb, was a member of the Janjaweed. And one of the cornerstones of the brutal counterinsurgency campaign that the Sudanese Government embarked upon was by relying hand and glove in cahoots with the Janjaweed or Arab militia. Now the word Janjaweed comes from two root words in Arabic, Jin which is the hidden or unseen, and Jawad which is horse, in common parlance very often Janjaweed are referred to as devils on horseback.

They were known, their signature movement was riding horses or camels, and coming in very frequently in morning attacks, very often at dawn, attacking villages, killings and destroying, and committing some of the crimes that are alleged in the charges before you.

One witness recalls a morning, a little bit later, not at the morning prayer but about 9 o’clock, Witness 7, 0007, and Witness 0007 says this: “At about 9 o’clock, 0900 hours, the Janjaweed and government soldiers attacked the town from the east. I was in my house with my wives and children when they arrived. The Janjaweed on horseback and camelback, some of the Janjaweed

were on foot. They started firing randomly.”

Your Honours, in the course of the trial, the Prosecution members of this team, and perhaps others will ask witnesses what effect this had on them, what was the effect, the trauma, if any, that experience itself even before we get to killings and rapes and destruction of property, what effect did that have, these morning attacks when you are awoken from your slumber or interrupted from your prayers, what effect did it have or does it have on them.

Mr Abd-Al-Rahman, the Prosecution says, is one of the key senior Janjaweed/militia leaders that the Government of Sudan relied upon heavily, that they worked with closely. He was, the Prosecution says, a willing and knowing participant in crimes. Indeed you’ll see, not by way of rhetoric, but from the actions and the evidence that will be led, you will see that he took pride in the power that he thought he exerted and the authority that he had. A strange glee in a feared reputation.

You will hear evidence, Your Honours, that his forces and himself rampaged across different parts of Darfur, Wadi Salih and Mukjar localities in West Darfur, inflicting severe pain and suffering on women and children and men in the villages that he left in their wake or displaced, and in also Kodoom, Bindisi, Mukjar and Deleig; my colleagues, learned friends after me will address you on those.

The attacks really were against the Fur people, the Fur villagers, at their places. And the executions, the sexual and gender-based crimes, the crimes against children and the underlying persecutory intent in so much of this really is the bedrock underpinning this case and is brought to life in some way at least, however imperfectly, in the 31 counts that your Honours will determine in due course.

Rape was frequently and deliberately inflicted. It wasn’t the odd individual committing criminality. It is clear it is deliberately inflicted as parts of the attacks against the civilian population. One witness you will hear said it was very common. But an example of it and an example of the consequences of it, in any culture anywhere in the world, but in Darfur will be brought to life by P-0015. And that witness will say, and I quote: “Some of the women and girls who were raped during the conflict attempted suicide.” She adds, and I quote: “In my community, a girl who has been raped has no value.” We see this very often. The individual who targeted and particularly with the crime of rape, they’re targeting and had this crime inflicted upon them immediately in the situation. But it has a consequence that is well-known in different cultures, that the victim is then far too frequently ostracised, separated and cut asunder even from the wider family.

The same witness describes that how during an attack on Bindisi, that one Janjaweed member came literally on his high horse and forcibly picked up a girl of 15 years of age, put her on the back of the horse and rode away. She describes also that the Janjaweed and asakir, you’ll hear in the course of the trial are used to denote those members of the security forces or law enforcement personnel of Sudan that are wearing uniforms, that they had preselected between 10 to 15 girls and women, and she says that they took them to a location and then I think what comes next should be read verbatim, with your leave, Madam President.

The witness says: “The Janjaweed and asakir, tore off the inner clothes of these girls and women so that by the time the girl and women were on the ground she was naked.” And the witness continued that: “In the case of young girls, they were held down by one of them meanwhile another worked on her.” “Worked” being the witness’s own terminology. She continued that if the witness seemed strong or resisted, she was held down by two, instead of one, one by the legs and another by the chest, a third worked her. The man “working” a euphemism for raping and that’s clear in the evidence you’ll hear.

The man raping raised up his jallabia, took off her underwear, took off his underwear and then raped. Madam President, in this witness’s account that you will hear and Your Honours will hear, the women and girls being raped, the 10 to 15 group, done by where groundnuts were being kept,

including a mother and her two daughters. All the girls that were raped were between 15 to 18 years of age. They had so much to look forward to before the events that were inflicted upon them. The sole exception to those between 15 to 18 was one mother of two girls who was about 30 or 40 years of age.

Madam President, unfortunately there is many accounts of this, and we will do our best efforts, given where we are in proceedings, to highlight cases of sexual gender-based crimes to the best of our ability so that Your Honours can determine relevance and the responsibility of Mr Abd-Al-Rahman and also understand the depth of suffering that has been caused.

Not even infants were spared brutality in the attacks in Kodoom and Bindisi. One witness describes that on the attack on 16 August 2003, another woman called Fatima had a baby on her back. A Janjaweed on horseback asked her to put it down and she refused. When he took the baby and lifted the child, the little infant up and saw it was a boy, he threw the child in the air and it landed about a metre, perhaps a metre and a half from where the witness was standing.

She’ll describe, and I quote in fact her statement, that when the child hit the ground, he laid there without breathing. An old woman picked him up and he started breathing slowly. All the women started shouting for help and were saying, “God help me.”

Within Mukjar, you will hear in the course of the opening and throughout the trial, a tale of woe and despair and hardship within the cramped, squalid confines of the Mukjar police station, and you will hear evidence from multiple witnesses how they had to squat almost cheek to jowl, they had to defecate where they stood, where they squatted. It was very hot and overcrowded, and the stench was overwhelming.

One witness put it in this manner, and I quote, “people were stacked on top of each other. They were Fur, Fur with black skin just crammed into the cell. The cell had hardly any air and it was very hot.”

Another describes that it wasn’t just a random Janjaweed, it wasn’t just uniformed members of the Sudanese security forces that were inflicting these conditions on them, it was, the witnesses say, Mr Abd-Al-Rahman, Ali Kushayb himself. He was not remote. He was an active participant. One witness, P-0919 describes that whilst at that station Ali Kushayb was beating the Umdahs, the elders. You’ll hear quite some evidence of that, the elders being particularly targeted as if to break the will, and the honour and the cohesion of the community. Another will describe how Ali Kushayb’s men shaved, forcibly shaved, I should say, two detainees with knives to the scalp, thereby injuring them. And he watched and saw three detainees have their ears cut off in front of his eyes. Their ears fell to the ground and profuse bleeding of course naturally occurred.

He says, the witness says he didn’t know what happened to those three. The detainees were just crying because it was unbearable, and Ali Kushayb then left the cell. The Prosecution says he was there. He was not passive, but an active participant. Unfortunately for P-0919, he was not a spectator to the misery of others, he didn’t only have the misfortune to see those beatings, those ears being cut off, but he himself had a hot iron taken to his skin as part of an interrogation and he was burnt. He will describe in the course of this trial, Madam President, how the Abu Taira, who are an organised central reserve force of the Government of Sudan tried to interrogate him and ask him about the Tora Bora, the rebels, and he said, he didn’t even know what the Tora Bora was, he didn’t even know that that phrase meant rebels, and he was terribly treated. He says many others in that cell were inflicted with that hot iron and they had burns, either on their shoulders, on their thighs or on their back.

In the course of this trial, Madam President, Your Honours, you will see some of these burns, you will see some of the marks that the Prosecution allege Ali Kushayb, Mr Abd-Al-Rahman sitting in this courtroom inflicted with his axe on the precious skin of the witnesses that you will see and hear about.

There was a wanton disregard for basic humanity. We’ve heard and you will hear in the course of this trial examples of deliberate targeting. We’ve talked about rapes, but also deliberate targeting of Umdahs, the senior members, the leaders of the community.

As an example, witness P-0129 will give testimony that he was sitting and he was hit with the handle of Mr Ali Kushayb’s axe, they were sitting on the floor and he was hitting and there was an Umdah, Yahya, an elderly Fur leader, and there was a small child sitting next to Umdah Yahya. When Ali Kushayb brandished his cold axe and it hit Umdah Yahya, it either intentionally or recklessly also hit that child.

That was not, of course, the only child victim in Mukjar. In a really chilling episode Your Honours will hear evidence of a roadside execution where it said the accused ordered the killing of five children aged between 10 to 12 and also their religious teacher. This is Witness P-0905, who describes that there was a Sheikh with students in his Khalwa, his Koranic school and when the Janjaweed came and Mr Abd-Al-Rahman came, they were shaking. His words were, “the young ones, they were scared. They were shaking, shaking.” And this Sheikh said, “I am not scared of death. You can kill me. But these five children, they are poor. They are my responsibility and they’re orphans.” Despite that, Your Honours will hear evidence that those children were shown no mercy, but were killed.

The Sheikh saw that and knew he was going to be next, and asked if he could say two rakats of prayer. Witness P-0905 explains that he was permitted by Mr Abd-Al-Rahman to perform those two rakats of prayer and thence continues, and I quote: “The religious man, he finished his two rakats, he finished his prayer. They finished with him.”

Your Honours, there’s so many examples of abuse, not just using his axe, not just killing people, ordering the execution of children or allowing rapes and participating in all of the allegations that are charged and are before you, but just really beastly abuse.

An example is given by P-0976 regarding detention in Mukjar, and Umdah Yahya Ahmad Zarouk’s name was called in the presence of the accused, that Umdah came forward and the evidence you will hear is that Mr Abd-Al-Rahman called him – Ali Kushayb called him a criminal. The Umdah just had the temerity or the honour to shake his head and because of that it seems Abd-Al-Rahman stuck him on the head with the axe. The Umdah fell to the ground, understandably, perhaps, unable to stand, and as Ali Kushayb, as Mr Abd-Al-Rahman was walking past, he pulled his ears, this aged Umdah’s ears, and said, “I’m going to ride the donkey. I’m going to ride the donkey.”

This dehumanising, debasing, unacceptable treatment was not limited, of course, to Mukjar. It’s seen in almost all of the locations. P-0907 describes how in Deleig, men were lying on the ground in front of a police station. When one detainee said to Mr Abd-Al-Rahman, who are you to force us to lie down supine on the ground, Mr Abd-Al-Rahman answered, I’m the one in charge here, I do whatever I want, and struck the detainee with his axe.

The witness describes the bleeding and also that Ali Kushayb, not sufficient perhaps to see them stand and them lying, literally trampled on their rights, on their dignity by treading on their backs. And that’s not just a lone witness, Witness 0671 also saw Mr Abd-Al-Rahman standing on some prisoners and kicking them, deliberate debasing treatment to humiliate, to break their will.

Witness 907 stated, I have never heard about such treatment. No one does that anywhere in the world. The impact on children really can’t be emphasised enough, Madam President, Your Honours. We’ve seen examples or heard examples already in my opening regarding infants assaulted in Bindisi, how children were shot and killed in Mukjar. But I think if I may be permitted just to highlight a few examples of the very real trauma, break and anguish that there we say the conduct of this accused brought deliberately on these children.

Witness P-0955 was about 15 years of age at the time. Sudanese Darfuri, like most kids in the world, love soccer, they love football. But instead of having memories of playing football with his friends and having a normal life that his family would have expected, he describes seeing his father detained in a vehicle after he was arrested in Deleig. Perhaps knowing or sensing what was to come, he states this, and I quote: “My father looked over in in my direction, made eye contact with me. On seeing me, he became emotional, and we both started crying. That would be the last time I was able to see my father alive.”

Another witness, P-0714, gives a vivid account, in my submission, and Your Honours will hear it for yourselves, regarding fleeing from his home in Taringa in 2003 after the call to prayer time, he states this: “I was in bed and my father was awake and washing to prepare for prayers. The call to prayer was always around 4 a.m. and this was happening when I heard gunshots. My father shouted to the family to get up. I came out of my home and saw flames around the village. I heard people screaming and shouting and saw them running. I was scared and it was a chaotic situation. I saw the Janjaweed firing their weapons and I escaped and heard the gunfire.” But like many, and almost every witness will have a story, Madam President, Your Honours, in the immediate aftermath, the terror didn’t stop, because the witness then states, fleeing for his life, “we stayed in the mountain for about two weeks and survived on some flour that had been brought along. For the two weeks in the mountain, I heard continuous gunfire around the area.”

The longer-term damage is also synthesised and brought into stark relief by this witness because he it states very clearly, and I quote, “because of the conflict and insecurity in my area, I could not continue my education further.”

So while the temporal scope of the charges may not be expansive, the consequences have been extremely expansive, and they continue for far too many right to the present.

One mother, P-011 describes this reality, because of the criminality, the Prosecution submits because of the knowing and deliberate actions of the accused in this case, along with others, this witness had to flee. She says, and I quote: “The conflict in Darfur has also split up my family. Now my mother and son are in Darfur whilst I am in Chad. I’m constantly thinking about them and I’m only able to communicate through the Red Cross system, which is very slow. It is also very painful to see relatives humiliated and detained for no reason. I know I have to be brave in the refugee camp to cope with life, otherwise I lose everything.”

Another witness, P-671, a teenage boy, again a child, describes the lasting pervasive trauma of seeing his father and other brother arrested in Deleig. And then finding their executed bodies on the ground and then burying them. Nobody, and certainly no teenage boy should have to endure that, in the submission of the Prosecution.

The witness states, and I quote: “The images I saw stay with me and cause me severe nightmares. I try not to think about what happened to my brother and father, but when I do it makes me extremely sad”, and this story is replicated. They are samples, they are specimens of a much wider issue of the various communities. Many of those individuals grew up in camps like the Kalma camp and others.

Your Honours, this is not, in my respectful submission, a complicated case. It’s not a case of command responsibility where the military superior or civilian, you know, the military commander or the military superior is far removed from the battlefield. It’s a case where there is multiplicity of evidence from different sources that the accused killed, he ordered, he encouraged a full range of crimes that are before Your Honours; he participated, and he ordered. It seems his defence is, it’s not me. And when you hear in a moment my learned friend, Julian Nicholls will say – you’ll hear some additional arguments that will be presented in the course of the trial, additional evidence will be foreshadowed that will be led and Your Honours will determine whether or not that is a true position or an insult to the truth.

Witness after witness saw him, heard him, recognised him. Witness after witness knew Mr Abd-Al-Rahman from before. This is, the Prosecution say, a strong case. But we are confident that when you have heard all the evidence and assessed the submissions and questions from the Defence, you will be satisfied so that you are sure that you will be able to convict Mr Abd-Al-Rahman.

I’m very cognisant, Madam President, Your Honours, that here we are in our robes thousands of miles away from Darfur, with wonderful technology in front of us in a new Court building and this is seems very alien, this seems very far removed, and it is, in truth very far removed in every sense of the word from the reality that many Darfuri victims, survivors are living in today, either in refugee camps in Chad or internally displayed people in Sudan or in the diaspora trying to assimilate as best they can as foreigners fleeing for their life in different countries. But at the same time, with your leave, Madam President, I wish to emphasise they’re not forgotten. I think they are very much in our collective mind’s eye today, and I am confident that they will be heard, and they will be listened to by Your Honours, and Your Honours will see what took place through their eyes and objectively and after hearing all the evidence, in my respectful submission, there will be only one outcome.

In my respectful view, this Situation, this case that Your Honours are going to hear, that Madam President, you will preside over, is precisely the type of Situation, precisely the kind of case for which this International Criminal Court was created. In my respectful submission, this is precisely the kind of Situation that the Security Council should have referred, and they should be proud that they did in furtherance to the UN Charter. With the bringing and starting of this case, and by the end of this trial, I’m confident that the first few drops of justice will land on what has hitherto been a desert of impunity in Darfur.

Public Release. More on this here.