May 21, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government reiterated its long standing position that African countries should withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has charged president Omer Hassan al-Bashir with ten counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide connected to the Darfur conflict.
- Judges Fatoumata Dembele Diarra, rear left, Bruno Cotte, center rear, and Christine Van Den Wyngaert, rear right, enter the Courtroom of the ICC during the closing statements in the trial against Congolese nationals Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo in The Hague May 15, 2012 (AP)
Sudan’s official news agency (SUNA) quoted justice minister Mohamed Bushara Dousa as telling the African Union (AU) meeting of Government Experts and Ministers of Justice/Attorneys General concluded last week, that Africa needs to adopt a unified vision that would bear into consideration the continent’s interests and that of African leaders, whom he said are targeted by the court.
Dousa said that the double standards of the court should push the African countries to withdraw from the Hague-based court and activate the African Court of Justice and Human and People’s Rights which could soon be mandated to look into international crimes such as genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
African nations have become more vocal in their criticisms of the ICC since the indictment of Bashir in 2009 which was the first by the court to a sitting head of state.
So far all the cases taken by the court are in Africa although most of them were referred by the states themselves to the ICC for investigation and prosecution.
But previous attempts by countries such as Sudan, Eritrea and Libya to have an en masse African withdrawal from the ICC have failed.
The Sudanese justice minister underscored that Bashir enjoys full immunity as a head of state and that all countries, including ICC members, should receive him regardless of political pressure.
Already countries such as Malawi, Kenya, Chad and Djibouti have allowed Bashir to visit without arresting him though the first two later refused to receive him again.
The AU has issued several resolutions ordering its members not to cooperate with the ICC regarding Bashir’s warrant and the last summit held asked the AU commission chairman to consider asking the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for an opinion on whether the Sudanese president could see his immunity stripped from him based on the indictment.
The Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti said in a parliamentary briefing this month that they are pushing the AU to head to the ICJ on the matter but did not elaborate.