July 19, 2008 (CAIRO) — Arab foreign minister rejected today the "unbalanced request" of arrest warrant by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the Sudanese president over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur.
- Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa attends a ministerial meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo July 19, 2008. (Reuters)
The Arab League’s 22 foreign ministers decided in a resolution adopted on Saturday to show "solidarity with the Republic of Sudan in the face of any schemes aimed at undermining its sovereignty, unity and stability and not to accept the unbalanced position of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court at the request contained in a case submitted to the ICC (pre-trial Chamber)."
The Arab minister further said they adopt this position to emphasis on their rejection to any "attempts meaning to politicize the principles of international justice or to use it to erode State sovereignty, unity, security, stability and national symbols."
In his second case about Darfur crimes, the Prosecutor has concluded there are reasonable grounds to believe that president Omar al-Bashir bears criminal responsibility in relation to 10 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Accordingly, the Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked the pre-trial Chamber judges on Monday 14 July to issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir.
The jurisdiction of the Court comes from a referral by the UN Security Council. The resolution 1593 of March 2005 stated that justice and accountability are critical to achieve lasting peace and security in Darfur.
The Arab ministers asked the UN Security Council to shoulder its responsibilities of maintaining peace and security, and to be very careful in dealing with the situation in Sudan during the coming stage. Further they said that the Security Council should not allow any party, action or conduct to undermine the efforts of a political settlement to Darfur crisis.
Nevertheless, the AL meeting didn’t explicitly ask the Security Council to suspend ICC investigations or prosecutions for a year.
Mahmoud Ali Youssef, the foreign minister of Djibouti, and the current president of the AL, explained the adopted decision by saying the ICC judges didn’t yet issue an arrest warrant against president al-Bashir and it is just a request filed by the prosecutor.
"We are not at the stage of the Security Council because there is no arrest warrant against president al-Bashir. For the moment we need to demonstrate a real political solidarity with the Sudan." Youssef told the Sudanese TV at the end of the meeting.
However the Arab ministers charged the Secretary General Amr Musa and a ministerial committee formed to follow up the issue to put a plan of action in coordination with the Sudanese government.
The members of the committee are Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Sudan..
They further requested Musa to continue contacts with UN Secretary-General and Chairman of the AU Commission to secure a joint move aimed at dealing with the situation between Sudan and the ICC.
TWO OPTIONS FOR KHARTOUM
In Khartoum the Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir today received demonstrators who were protesting against the ICC’s chief prosecutor’s request for an arrest warrant against him.
The demonstration was organized by youth organization in Khartoum. The protesters scanted slogans like "With our spirit and blood, our president, we came to stand with you our president," or "We came to share with you our president, we are your army our president."
The Arab League chief, Amr Musa will fly tomorrow to Khartoum for talks with the Sudanese president al-Bashir, and after he will take part in a meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa.
Musa should propose to a plan of action to be conducted by the Arab League in coordination with the African Union.
In order to adopt this exit strategy, Musa is expected to propose two options to the Sudanese president.
The first one call for a trial of the two suspected wanted by the ICC: Sudan’s humanitarian affairs minister, Ahmed Harun, who was formerly in charge of security in Darfur, and suspected militia leader Ali Kushayb.
The other option will be to try the two suspects in an African country with the participation of by ICC representatives. However this controversial proposal had been debated last year and rejected by the Sudan.
Musa told the media today that details of the plan would be disclosed after his talks with al-Bashir on Sunday and consultations with the African Union.
The Arab ministers said in their resolution that the Sudanese judiciary is capable of prosecuting Darfur war crime suspects. They further called for the completion of trials under the supervision of the Arab League and the African Union.
However the prosecutor underlined in his request of the arrest warrant, said that in accordance with the principle of "complementarity", the Prosecution has assessed the existence of national proceedings in the Sudan in relation to those crimes.
"There are none. The only officers al- Bashir really wanted investigated were those who refused to comply with his orders to commit genocide." Ocampo said.