Skip to main content

Sudan crisis: International Criminal Court probes reports of extrajudicial killings and rape

The court’s top prosecutor warns that history is repeating itself in Darfur
Karim Khan, Prosecutor of International Criminal Court, addresses a Security Council meeting on the situation in Sudan on 13 July 2023, at United Nations headquarters (AP)
Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Karim Khan addresses a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in Sudan on 13 July 2023 (AP)

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has launched an investigation into reports of extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, and other crimes committed in Sudan’s ongoing internal conflict

The court’s top prosecutor Karim Khan told the UN Security Council on Thursday that we “now are in peril of allowing history to repeat itself,” in Darfur as violence in the western region surges. 

“We are not on the precipice of a human rights catastrophe, we are in the midst of one,” he said. 

ICC prosecutors will examine reports of “extrajudicial killings, burning of homes and markets, and looting, in el-Geneina, West Darfur, as well as the killing and displacement of civilians in North Darfur and other locations across Darfur," said a report by Khan's office. 

Allegations of “sexual and gender-based crimes, including mass rapes and alleged reports of violence against and affecting children," will also be reviewed. 

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


Since 15 April, Sudan has been rocked by a bloody war between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). 

The fighting has killed thousands of people and displaced more than three million, according to the UN.

Most of the fighting has been happening in the capital Khartoum but some of the worst violence has been recorded in the Darfur region.

A mass grave of at least 87 people allegedly killed by the RSF and its allies was found outside the city of el-Geneina, the capital of West Darfur state, the UN said on Thursday. 

Eyewitnesses told Middle East Eye last month that the smell of rotting corpses filled the streets of el-Geneina as hundreds of bodies were left decomposing amid the heavy fighting. 

In Sudan’s el-Geneina, the dead are left lying in the streets
Read More »

An aid worker in the city, who like many sources wished to remain anonymous for security reasons, told MEE that around 1,500 people had been killed in the town since the war broke out on 15 April.

At least 1,000 of those were women and children, he said.

“So far, we have collected around 700 dead bodies, and double this number are still on streets and inside some houses, but we can’t reach them because of the intensive firing by the militias,” the aid worker said.

“We have seen the corpses decomposing and can smell them rotting. The bodies are scattered randomly everywhere. Unless this situation is sorted soon, this will cause widespread health issues, diseases, and more deaths.”

There have also been reports of rampant sexual crimes committed by fighters. 

Children as young as 12 are being raped and sexually assaulted in "alarming numbers," the charity Save the Children said earlier this month. 

Officials expect there have been as high as 4,400 cases of sexual violence since the war broke out. 

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.