CONCERNING THE UN COMMISSION OF INQUIRY ON DARFUR, November 2004 – January 2005
Eric Reeves | 6 May 2011
Information from Deborah Bodkin, Canadian police officer and member of both the UN Commission of Inquiry on Darfur (2004-2005) and the Coalition for International Justice study of Darfur (August-September 2004):
Eric Reeves’ interview with Debb Bodkin, Concordia University (Montreal), November 1, 2005; highlighted points:
• Forensic experts not doing their jobs but rather interviewing victims, for which they were not trained; they did not put a spade in the ground;
• Khartoum’s Humanitarian Commission consistently interfered with (insisting on being present, despite terms of reference for COI activities);
• Khartoum created visa delays;
• The investigation was plagued by hastiness/lack of preparation/too short a time-frame for the work;
• UN Commissioner Antonio Cassese declaring at outset, before going to Sudan, that “they would not be finding genocide”;
• The UN inquiry wax the shoddiest, poorest investigation she’s ever been part of;
• Politics saturated the report, which had been deeply politicized by the commissioner
See also Sam Totten, “US Investigation into the Determination of Genocide in the Darfur Crisis an its determination of genocide,” Genocide Studies and Prevention, 2006-1,1 57-78:, Footnote 50.
Debb Bodkin, a police officer based in Canada and the only person who served as an investigator for both the ADP and the COI, told this author that the data collected by the COI was unsystematic and not as focused as the ADP’s. More specifically, in recent correspondence with the author, Bodkin commented as follows: “During our briefing [about the COI] in Geneva, we were given no format or indication as to how the investigation and interviews were to be conducted. As a result every investigator conducted his/her investigation and interviews in whatever fashion he/she preferred. I cannot believe that with the vast difference in expertise of each investigator there would be any semblance of consistency in regard to the gathering of evidence….The UN investigation did not have any laid out parameters whatsoever and as a result an untrained interviewer could easily ask questions in a manner that would elicit whatever response the interview hoped to obtain….[Also,] each investigator was open to choose who they interviewed and how….As far as the soundness of the COI, when I compare it to any of the sexual assault or homicide investigations which I was part of during my police service in Waterloo, Ontario, it would not [have gone forward] due to the low probability of a conviction, mainly because of the fact that the investigators did not meet the required adequacy standards to be conducting interviews and did not have the knowledge, skills or ability to be doing so…” (email sent to the author, April 15, 2006).
Furthermore, Bodkin asserted that while the COI team was in Geneva , prior to entering the field, Antonio Cassese, who oversaw the COI, inferred that the COI would not result in a finding of genocide. More specifically, Bodkin, in recent correspondence with the author, conveyed the following: “Commissioner Antonio Cassese, who had traveled to Khartoum and some parts of Darfur for a few days and had conducted some interviews , stated that he felt that we would find that there were two elements of genocide missing: (1) target group (victims are from mixed tribes) and (b) mens rea (intent). He talked for a while and my personal opinion was that he was telling us that the outcome of the investigation would show that it was not genocide which was occurring. He did not specify how long he had visited nor how many interviews he had conducted but I don’t believe either were extensive. I felt it was very inappropriate for him to plant this opinion in the investigators’ minds prior to starting the investigation and other investigators felt uncomfortable about it as well. ..The female Commissioner [Ms. Hina Jilani from Pakistan] stated: ‘Go with an open mind.’ During the briefing I got the distinct impression that there was some tension between Commissioner Cassese and Commissioner Jilani as their comments often conflicted with one another and he was expressing what he thought our findings would be whereas she always made comments about us doing our job open-mindedly” (email received by the author on April 15, 2006).