Totten offers Darfur solutions

The current crisis in Darfur and proposals for possible reconciliation were the topics for this week’s political forum.

Christopher Totten, assistant professor of criminology and justice studies, presented a lecture titled “Politics and Justice; Studies in International Crime.”

Totten gave the audience background information on the current “massive human rights crisis” in Darfur. The crisis began in 2003 when the Sudanese government attempted to demolish the centuries-old tribal structures that had been the central body in political decisions and land distribution in Darfur. Rebel groups clashed with the government officials, which has escalated to the current crisis of 2.2 million internally displaced and 2 million “conflict affected” people in Darfur.

Totten discussed the International Criminal Court (ICC) intervention in Darfur. Problems have arisen as a result of the court’s involvement in Darfur.

An integrated approach to a resolution of Darfur was one of Totten’s proposals.

“The Sudanese special courts should deal with the low-level prosecutions,” Totten suggested. “The Sudanese special courts should reserve for the ICC the crimes against humanity and the war crimes.”

The ICC is currently trying to prosecute various leaders of the crisis in Darfur for war crimes. However, the ICC is finding it increasingly difficult to prosecute for many reasons, according to Totten.

Totten brought up the fact that the Sudanese government has the death penalty while the ICC does not. “Sudan should get rid of the death penalty for Darfur,” he said.

Totten also proposed the creation of a truth commission for Darfur, which would research the effects of the crisis on victims, the cause of the crisis and the political and social factors of the crisis.

A truth commission would “help in terms of forgiveness” because it would most likely enforce reparations for the victims, promote educational programs and “harmonize Sudanese law with international law,” Totten said.

Instead of focusing entirely on international methods of reconciliation, Totten proposed using centuries-old local mechanisms, such as a Diya ceremony in which the wrongdoer pays the victim in cattle and community service.

Totten did point out that there are many difficulties in having these proposals accomplished. For one thing, the ICC has no police force and there is a low likelihood of Sudanese cooperation.