Home | News    Sunday 27 March 2005

Sudan rejects UN resolutions on war crimes prosecutions

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KHARTOUM, March 27 (Reuters) - Sudan would reject any U.N. resolution calling for the prosecution in a court abroad of Sudanese nationals suspected of war crimes, the foreign minister said on Sunday.

Mustafa Osman Ismail.

The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote on Wednesday on a French draft resolution which would send those suspected of committing war crimes in the Darfur region to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which the United States opposes.

The United States has proposed a new U.N.-African Union tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania. However many European nations, including Britain, want the suspects to be sent to the ICC.

Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail said Sudan, which is not a signatory to the ICC, would reject both resolutions.

"Both of them are not suitable to Sudan," he said. "Any resolution that is going to include the taking of a Sudanese — whether he is a rebel or government official — outside the Sudan. We are totally against it."

But one of the Darfur rebel groups said the Security Council should adopt the French resolution.

"We think this resolution will contribute to peace — it will enhance the confidence of the displaced people and honour those who have been killed," senior Justice and Equality Movement official Tajeddin Nyam said.

"It will help us reach a political solution," he said.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed by fighting during the two-year-old rebellion in Darfur, and thousands die every month in camps for the almost 2 million who fled the violence, which the United States has called genocide.

A U.N.-appointed commission stopped short of calling the violence genocide but said heinous war crimes had been committed in the region. It gave the U.N. Secretary-General a sealed list of 51 names of government and military officials, militia leaders and rebels whom it said should be referred to the ICC.

The Security Council has been deadlocked over the issue, but passed a resolution last week allowing up to 10,000 U.N. peacekeepers to be deployed in south Sudan, where a January peace deal ended more than two decades of a separate civil war.

U.N. DEPLOYMENT WITHIN 6 MONTHS

The commander of the U.N. force, Fazle Elahi Akbar, told reporters in Khartoum that it would be deployed within six months. Its main tasks will be to monitor troop movements and support a ceasefire, he said.

The troops will come from China, Bangladesh, Ghana, Gabon, Indian, Pakistan, Egypt and Zambia, he said.

Akbar said there was concern about the Uganda rebel movement, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which is present in southern Sudan around the town of Juba near the Uganda border.

"One of the issues raised was the presence of the LRA in the Juba sector in the south," he said after meeting with international monitors currently deployed in the area. "They apprehend that this could be a problem."

Akbar also said he would pursue a zero tolerance policy as regards to any sexual abuse by U.N. troops in Sudan.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the United Nations has accused peacekeepers of rape and of enticing hungry children with food or money in exchange for sex.

"It will not take place here and if it will take place there will be a direct zero tolerance policy," Akbar said.

(Additional reporting by Jonathan Wright in Cairo)

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