Home | News    Friday 18 March 2005

UN Security Council fails to agree on Darfur prosecutions

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UNITED NATIONS, March 17 (AFP) — The UN Security Council failed Thursday to take action on Sudan as the United States and other members continued to disagree on where to prosecute criminals from the conflict in the western Darfur region.

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UN Security Council

While a majority of council members want to refer suspects to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, the United States, which opposes the world tribunal, proposes that perpetrators of crimes be tried in a special tribunal based in Tanzania.

An independent commission has found that crimes against humanity were likely committed in Darfur.

The council instead voted to prolong by one week the UN Advance Mission in Sudan (UNAMIS), which was to expire Thursday.

The mission was created last year to set the conditions for the deployment of a force to support a peace agreement that in January ended a separate 21-year conflict in Sudan pitting the government in the north against rebels in the south.

The creation of the 10,000-strong force is backed by the full council, but it has yet to be approved because it is part of a US-drafted resolution that deals with Darfur and the north-south peace deal. The draft has not moved due to debate over the criminal court.

More than 180,000 people have died in the Darfur region over the past 18 months while 1.8 million have been displaced, UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland said Wednesday.

After black African rebels in Darfur rose up against Sudan’s Arab-led government, Khartoum turned to proxy militias — the Janjaweed — to put down the rebellion, and those militias have been blamed for a scorched-earth campaign of murder, rape and pillage.

In Geneva, a group of UN experts called Thursday for concrete action by the Security Council to end the conflict in Darfur, where it said extra-judicial executions, rape, torture, abductions and forced displacement are daily occurrences.

They called for the Darfur case to be referred to ICC.

On Wednesday, Nigeria, which is not part of the Security Council, circulated here on behalf of the African Union a document calling for the creation of an African Panel for Criminal Justice and Reconciliation to prosecute Darfur criminals.

"Justice has to go hand in hand with reconciliation," said Algerian ambassador Abdallah Baali.

But his colleagues from nations that have ratified the ICC said they backed the use of the world court.

"I don’t think it’s going to happen," British ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said. "We’re not trying to be divisive at all, but we are all committed to a destination, the ICC, which is what the EU foreign ministers said yesterday too."

His French counterpart, Jean-Marc de La Sabliere, also warned: "Time is running out, we need to adopt this resolution."

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