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American Bar Foundation scholar’s prize-winning work on Darfur murders measures deaths in the hundreds of thousands

March 5, 2009, Press releases


American Bar Foundation scholar’s prize-winning work on Darfur murders measures deaths in the hundreds of thousands

CHICAGO, IL March 5, 2009 – A little less than a month before The International Criminal Court (ICC) handed down a warrant for the arrest of Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Darfur region of Sudan, American Bar Foundation sociologist John Hagan was named as the co-recipient of the 2009 Stockholm Prize in Criminology for his groundbreaking work in defining the scope of the ongoing tragedy in Darfur. The Stockholm Prize in Criminology is awarded by an independent global jury “for outstanding achievements in criminological research or for the application of research results by practitioners for the reduction of crime and the advancement of human rights.” Hagan will share the prize with Raul Eugenio Zaffaroni of the Supreme Court of Argentina.

The arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir, issued March 4, 2009, in response to the case presented by ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo, lists 7 counts naming Bashir personally criminally responsible for atrocities committed in the region: five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes. The charges for crimes against humanity cite the criteria of murder, extermination, forcible transfer, and rape. The two counts for war crimes cite the acts of “intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities, and pillaging.” The Court fell short of charging Bashir with the crime of genocide, but according to a press release posted on the ICC website, the three-person panel of judges retained the prerogative to request an amendment of the warrant to include the crime of genocide at a later time.

“The decision of the International Criminal Court is important because it locates President Omar Al Bashir of Sudan as the source of the planning and implementation of the atrocities in Darfur,” said Hagan on the news of the arrest warrant. He added, “The case being developed by the Chief Prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, is important because it demands accountability not only for the massive killing, destruction, and displacement of black African groups in Darfur, but also for the persistence of the rapes, sexual violence and interference with humanitarian aid that continues to this day in the camps to which the victims flee. Darfur continues to be a massive crime scene.”

Hagan, who holds a joint appointment at the American Bar Foundation and as the John D. MacArthur Professor of Sociology and Law at Northwestern University, is also the Co-director of the Center on Law and Globalization. His work on estimating the death toll in the Darfur region of Sudan has been lauded for defining the scope and nature of the tragedy. Through the use of advanced crime measurement techniques, sophisticated demographic methods, and drawing on actual interviews with victims of the atrocities, Hagan and his colleagues concluded that the murders have numbered between 200,000 and 350,000. Original U.S. State Department and the World Health Organization estimates had placed the number of murders in the tens of thousands. Hagan and his co-author, Alberto Palloni, first published their findings in the journal, Science, in 2006.

Hagan’s full-length book, Darfur and the Crime of Genocide, with co-author Wenona Rymond-Richmond, a former ABF research associate and now a sociologist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, was published by Cambridge University Press late in 2008. Hagan’s work also focuses on the law’s role in the redress of the crime of genocide, and examines the question of how the science of criminology can advance the understanding of and protection against genocide. His earlier book, Justice in the Balkans (University of Chicago Press, 2003) is a social history of the international tribunal where Slobodan Milosevic, the late Serbian leader, was tried for war crimes for his role in the wars in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo.

The American Bar Foundation is the nation’s leading research institute for the empirical study of law. An independent, nonprofit organization, for more than fifty years the ABF has advanced the understanding and improvement of law through research projects of unmatched scale and quality on the most pressing issues facing the legal system in the United States and the world.

Contact: Lucinda Underwood


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