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George Clooney’s work documenting Sudan war crimes helps ICC probers

MANILA, Philippines – If it means having to use his pretty face to draw urgent attention to an ugly crime, then so be it. That’s how a TV commentator puts part of the thinking behind actor George Clooney’s work in exposing crimes against humanity in Southern Sudan. And now, it seems, reality has trumped make-believe, as the actor’s work in documenting recent war crimes in the Sudan have provided substantial inputs to an ongoing investigation for the International Criminal Court.

The ICC, according to TIME magazine, “is compiling evidence of possible recent war crimes in southern Sudan, allegedly directed by the same man, Sudanese Defense Minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein, who a prosecutor at the court wants to apprehend for alleged crimes eight years ago in Darfur. 

“An internal ICC memo outlines the Darfur crimes, and says Hussein is ‘currently central to the commission of similar crimes’ now along the border between the north and south, including the killings of thousands of civilians,” according to the TIME article.

ICC documents obtained by TIME show bulk of of the new investigation is “based on data from the Satellite Sentinel Project, a network of private spy satellites and analysts organized by George Clooney in partnership with John Prendergast’s Enough Project,” said the article by Mark Benjamin.

Benjamin recalled Clooney’s characterization of his work in an earlier interview: “We are the antigenocide paparazzi,” in reference to the pictures constantly being snapped by the  satellites since December 2010.

The ICC memo in particular cites Clooney’s satellites snapping images of the results of the bombing of villages in the Abyei region in late May, one that displaced 30,000 people; and of the movement of northern artillery and thousands of troops in Karmuk in Blue Nile State. “The memo also discusses reports from the Enough Project about the deaths of 211 civilians in South Sudan and documenting the North dispatching proxy militias to the South,” said TIME.

Clooney, often described as the handsomest face on the planet, has in the past received suggestions to seek political office,  given his serious advocacies—-a passion he in turn traces to his family’s long record in political work and the media.

He has appeared in a number of thought-provoking films on burning current issues, notably “Syriana,” the expose on the seamy geopolitics of the global petroleum industry, where his role of an aging CIA operative who sees the light and pays for his newfound convictions earned him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.