October 12, 2008 (CAIRO) – The Arab justice ministers have voiced their support to Sudan in face of an indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir.
- Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir greets several thousand of his supporters in the town of el Geneina in the far western part of Darfur, Sudan, Thursday, July 24, 2008 (AP)
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. In early October ICC judges have officially started reviewing the case in a process that could possibly drag on to next year.
The top Arab legal officials meeting in Cairo denounced what they described as “attempts to politicize the principles of international justice”.
“The request by the ICC prosecutor to issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese president is not based on sound legal grounds justifying it” the ministers said in a statement.
Sudan has requested a few months back a meeting of the Arab justice ministers to discuss the ICC row.
The justice ministers also hailed steps taken by Sudan to prosecute Darfur war crimes perpetrators through the appointment of a special prosecutor last August and establishment of courts to look right abuses in the war ravaged regions.
They also expressed their intention to assist Sudan in modifying its penal codes to incorporate crimes that are part of the ICC jurisdiction.
The Sudanese justice minister Abdel-Basit Sabdarat told the Associated Press that he thought the statement was “moderate” despite the language being watered down more than the Khartoum had requested.
Sudan has reportedly wanted the Arab ministers to condemn resolution 1593 which referred the Darfur case to the ICC and demand that it be withdrawn.
The Kuwaiti justice minister Hussein Al-Hareiti who presided over the session told Kuwait official news agency (KUNA) that the statement does not conflict with international resolutions”.
He also said that the justice ministers were able to come up with an “agreeable version”.
But Mahjoub Hussein, the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-Unity) spokesperson condemned the Arab Justice Ministers resolution saying it is a “reaffirmation of the status of the Arab League as a biased and unfair mediator in the Darfur crisis”.
“The decision of the Arab Justice Ministers reflects the real functions of the ministries of justice in working to promote the protection all dictatorships” he added.
Sudan has not ratified the Rome Statute, but the UN Security Council (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.