Law and Crime Prevention

Today’s Showdown at The Hague: Darfur War Criminal Faces the International Criminal Court

The first trial of a person accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s Darfur region, has got underway at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague.

Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman (also known as “Ali Kushayb”) appeared in Trial Chamber I of the ICC on Tuesday, with Judge Joanna Korner presiding, alongside Judge Reine Alapini-Gansou and Judge Althea Violet Alexis-Windsor.

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The suspected former leader of the pro-Government Janjaweed militia is accused of 31 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, allegedly committed in Darfur, between August 2003 “and at least April 2004”, said a press release from the ICC.

The Darfur conflict began in 2003, between Sudanese Government forces, backed by militia groups known as the Janjaweed, pitted against mainly non-Arab Darfur rebel movements, angry over discrimination and neglect on the part of central government. Hundreds of thousands were killed, and several million displaced by the brutal fighting.

Brutal crimes

The Janjaweed were widely accused of committing ethnic cleansing against the civilian population, burning and pillaging hundreds of villages.

Ousted former president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, is also facing genocide and war crimes charges relating to Darfur, in the ICC, but has so far evaded arrest. He is currently in custody in Sudan, following his removal from power in 2019.

The trial started with the reading of the charges against Mr. Abd-Al-Rahman, where he is alleged to have taken part in attacks on civilians in four Darfuri towns. He and militia members under his command, are alleged to have committed widespread rape, torture, killing and pillaging.

The ICC said that he is alleged to have implemented a counter-insurgency strategy directed by Khartoum, which “also resulted in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur”.


Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman at the opening of his trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), in The Hague, Netherlands.

Not guilty plea

“The Chamber was satisfied that the accused understood the nature of the charges. The accused plead not-guilty to all the charges”, said the ICC in its statement.

The first expert witness is scheduled to start testifying on 6 April 2022.

Mr. Abd-Al-Rahman was transferred to the ICC’s custody on 9 June 2020, after surrendering himself voluntarily in the Central African Republic. His initial appearance before the ICC took place on 15 June 2020.

The trial is taking place, amid an increase in unrest and violence in the Darfur region, following political upheaval in Khartoum, and a military coup, that has seen allegations of widespread human rights abuses.



  1. It is crucial that justice is served for the victims of such brutal crimes. The ICC play a key role in holding perpetrators accountable for their actions, bringing some semblance of closure to the affected communities.

  2. It’s crucial that those responsible for such brutal crimes are held accountable. Justice must prevail for the innocent victims of the Darfur conflict.

  3. As a human rights advocate, it’s heartening to see justice being pursued for the victims of the brutal Darfur conflict. The ICC’s trial of Ali Kushayb is a crucial step towards holding perpetrators of war crimes accountable. Let’s hope for a fair trial and closure for the survivors.

  4. It is crucial that justice is served in cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Darfur conflict was a brutal and devastating period that affected countless innocent lives. Holding those responsible accountable is a necessary step towards peace and justice.

  5. It’s about time that these perpetrators of brutal crimes are held accountable for their actions. Justice must be served for the innocent victims of the Darfur conflict. Let’s hope this trial brings some closure and sets a precedent for future prosecutions of war criminals.

  6. It is crucial that accountability is upheld for those responsible for the brutal crimes in Darfur. Justice must prevail for the innocent victims who suffered during the conflict. Hopefully, this trial at the International Criminal Court will bring some closure and justice to the affected communities.

  7. What evidence is being presented during the trial to prove the accused committed the war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur?

    1. During the trial at the ICC, various pieces of evidence such as witness testimonies, documentary proof, satellite imagery, and expert analysis are being presented to establish the accused’s involvement in the war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

  8. It is a crucial moment for justice to be served. The alleged perpetrator must be held accountable for the brutal crimes committed against innocent civilians in Darfur. This trial will hopefully bring some semblance of closure to the victims and their families.

  9. How will the ICC ensure a fair trial for Ali Kushayb, given the difficult circumstances of the Darfur conflict and the history of conflict in the region?

    1. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has a well-established system in place to ensure a fair trial, employing legal experts and impartial judges to carefully examine all evidence presented. Despite the challenges posed by the Darfur conflict’s context, the ICC remains committed to upholding justice and accountability for all parties involved.

  10. Is there any indication of how long the trial is expected to last? Will it be a lengthy process?

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