UNITED NATIONS - A U.N. commission on Sudan has concluded that systematic, government-backed violence in the western region of Darfur was not genocide but that there was evidence of crimes against humanity with an ethnic dimension.
The report documents violations of international human rights law, incidents of war crimes by militias and the rebels fighting them, and names individuals who may have acted with a "genocidal intention." But there was not sufficient evidence to indicate that the Khartoum government had a state policy intended to exterminate a particular racial or ethnic group, according to diplomats familiar with the report.
It recommends referring the cases to the International Criminal Court but leaves other options open. The United States, which opposes the court, has proposed setting up a war crimes tribunal in Tanzania to prosecute war crimes committed in Darfur.
The report was submitted to Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Thursday by a five-member independent commission that he assigned in October to investigate violations of human rights in Darfur, determine whether acts of genocide occurred and identify the perpetrators.
It is not expected to be made public until Sudan has a chance to review the assessment and it is presented to the Security Council next week.
The commission, chaired by Antonio Cassese, an Italian judge, had to reconvene after it finished the report because of disagreements about whether to name government officials who may be in charge of implementing Sudan's new peace plan, said diplomats familiar with the discussions. Sudan's ambassador to Washington, Khidir Haroun Ahmed, said he understood that the names would not be publicly disclosed until a court concludes there is a genuine case.
"It would not be in the benefit of peacemaking to jump to hasty conclusions and blame the government without 100 percent evidence because that will weaken the government as a partner for peace," he said.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed in Darfur, and nearly 2 million people have been uprooted from their land since rebel groups took up arms against government forces in early 2003. Militias allied to the government are accused of carrying out numerous killings and rapes in the rebels' region.
The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.