Home | News    Sunday 21 September 2008

French stance on ICC Darfur indictments comes under fire

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September 19, 2008 (PARIS) – The French recent statements on a possible deal to help Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir avoid an indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

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President Nicolas Sarkozy (Reuters)

In mid-July the ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced that he is seeking an arrest warrant for Al-Bashir.

The ICC’s prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo filed 10 charges: three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder. Judges are expected to take months to study the evidence before deciding whether to order Al-Bashir’s arrest.

Sudan and a number of regional organizations including the African Union (AU), Arab League, Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) condemned Ocampo’s request and called on the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution under Article 16 of the ICC Statute deferring Al-Bashir’s indictment.

Last week the Guardian newspaper said that France and United Kingdom are quietly backing efforts to stall Al-Bashir indictment.

This week the French Ambassador to the UN Jean-Maurice Ripert listed a set of conditions after which his government may support invoking Article 16.

“We had extensive meetings with representatives of the African Union (AU) and I think we are passing the same kind of messages [to Sudan] which stop the killings, stop the military action in Darfur…Do what you can do to alleviate the human suffering and improve the humanitarian access to Darfur...increase and improve the capacity of the authorities to participate in a political dialogue with all political forces….improve your relationship with Chad” Ripert said

The French-Libyan born counsel Dr. Hadi Shalluf called Paris’s position as a “blatant interference in the judicial process”.

“This is a serious violation of the European Union (EU) laws for a government to try and influence a court of law” Shalluf said.

The ICC registered lawyer reiterated his position that The Hague based court is not obligated to comply with a UNSC resolution invoking Article 16.

“If the ICC freezes its work on Darfur this would amount to judicial corruption on their part. Its unacceptable to any man of law” he added.

Abdel-Rahman Al-Rashid, a leading Saudi columnist wrote an Op-Ed titled ‘Sarkozy and selling out the Sudanese’ in the London based daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat describing France’s position as “outrageous and strange”.

Al-Rashid who is close to Saudi government circles said that France is unable to help Sudan in its current row with the ICC.

“Al-Bashir needs to get the affirmative votes of all five permanent members to freeze the indictment not just France…This is a very difficult task” he said.

Al-Rashid further said that judicial charges against Al-Bashir will help deter other “butcher leaders in the third world”.

“Since Ocampo announced the charges, Al-Bashir has been travelling all over the country promising his people to improve their living conditions, lifting injustice and having opposition parties take part in the government” he said.

The Agence France Press (AFP) reported that five non-governmental organizations including Amnesty International wrote to French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday saying they feared Paris was planning a compromise that would allow Khartoum to try them in Sudan.

The NGOs warned the French president, who made tackling the Darfur conflict an election pledge, that any compromise on the war crimes probe would "deal a major blow to the credibility and dissuasive power of the international criminal justice system."

“Khartoum certainly has the means of applying pressure, with thousands of UN soldiers deployed on its soil, but we must not give to the Sudanese government’s blackmail” warned Clement Boursin of Acat-France, a group that campaign against torture.

In 2005 France pushed the resolution referring the situation in Darfur to the ICC putting it at odds initially with the US which threatened to veto it if Paris insisted on introducing it.

Sudan has not ratified the Rome Statute, but the UNSC triggered the provisions under the Statute that enables it to refer situations in non-State parties to the world court if it deems that it is a threat to international peace and security.

(ST)

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  • 21 September 2008 08:35, by napatan

    Whilst the fact that heinous war crimes have been committed in Darfur by both the government, and the rebels, Mr Alrashed is not one to make a fair judgement.

    Some of his commentaries on Sudan are used in the Sudanese printed media as examples of flagrant, one-sided, anti-Sudan mis-information and denigration.

    I have read many of his commentaries on a range of topics and have also come to the conclusion that advertently or inadvertently he bears a deep seated disregard for the Sudanese Republic, for its history and its people.

    He is clearly a proponent of human rights which is unquestionably commendable.

    Why does he not write about the human rights situation in his native Kingdom?

    Is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia not ruled semi-feudally and autocratically?

    Has the concept of universal suffrage not been universally accepted for over half a century the world over, apart from in his native Kingdom?

    Is it not the case that his native Kingdom does not have the most basic semblances of constutitional rule and the separation of powers?

    Is it not the case that in his native Kingdom a rich and mighty family rules over a nation of some 21 million with no system of checks and balances whatsoever?

    Is his native Kingdom not one of the worst offenders in the domain of women’s rights, denying women the right to travel, the right to drive, the right to vote and even the right to custody of their own children in the domain of family law?

    Is his native Kingdom not the exporter of Wahabi, Salafist fundamentalism whose bitter fruits were born on the eventful date 09/11/01?

    Is it not the case that his native Kingdom does not accept the concept of pluralism be it political, sectarian or religious?

    Is it not the case that in his native Kingdom no political parties exist, the Shia and Ismaili minorities are not allowed to freely practice their religious rights and are discriminated against in securing what little rights citizenship affords and that no houses of worship for non-Muslims are officially sanctioned and exist?

    Why is it the case that he is never as vociferously critical regarding your native Kingdom as he is regarding Sudan?

    I invite him to read the Interim Constitution of Sudan:

    http://www.reliefweb.int/library/documents/2005/govsud-sud-16mar.pdf

    I trust that he finds constitutions and all they safeguard in terms of the separation of powers, the declaration of rights and fundamental freedoms, the democratic electoral system and the system of peaceful transfer of power to be commendable...

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