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Australia applauds UN decision to refer Darfur war crime to ICC

4/6/2005 7:40am

CANBERRA, Australia, Apr 6, 2005 (AP) -- Australia and New Zealand on Wednesday applauded the U.N. decision to refer allegations of atrocities in the Darfur region of Sudan to an international war crimes tribunal.

The U.N. Security Council voted last week to refer cases of alleged rape, murder, village burnings and other atrocities to the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal, the International Criminal Court.

The United Nations has quickly handed prosecutors in The Hague thousands of documents and a list of 51 people to be investigated for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said his government strongly supported the decision.

"This is an essential step to ending the atrocities in Darfur," Downer said in a statement.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff said the moves were "a major step toward justice and peace for the people of the Sudan after 21 years of civil war and internal conflict."

He said the court's investigation into the Darfur atrocities "hopefully" would act to deter further crimes being committed.

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