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France surprised by reports on efforts to suspend ICC move

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November 19, 2008 (PARIS) — France expressed surprise over reports disseminated by the Sudanese official media about French and British efforts to suspend the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction on Darfur crimes.

The official news agency SUNA published two days ago reports saying that France and Britain have agreed to boost efforts to vote for a Security Council resolution invoking article 16 of Rome Statue to suspend any indictment of Sudanese president.

SUNA said this move comes after efforts exerted by Syria, the current president of the Arab League, to persuade the two permanent members of the Security Council.

Asked about the news, French diplomatic sources speaking with Sudan Tribune from Paris expressed surprise and reiterated that France had not changed its initial stance on the necessary cooperation with the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Last October Paris informed a Sudanese delegation led by senior presidential adviser Nafi Ali Nafi that there is no alternative to cooperating directly with the ICC to achieve justice in Darfur.

ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked pre-trial judges last July to issue arrest warrants for Sudanese president Omar Hassan Al-Bashir.

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.

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 for a UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution deferring Al-Bashir’s indictment.

Speaking at the Assembly of ICC states parties on November 14, the French Ambassador to Netherlands Jean-François Blarel repeated the official position of his country, which leads the European Union, on the necessary cooperation with the ICC.

The European Union "intends to take this opportunity to reiterate the obligation to cooperate with the Court required from the Government of Sudan under resolution 1593 of the Security Council of the United Nations. That obligation to cooperate is not negotiable."

Sudan has not ratified the Rome Statue, but the UNSC invoked the provisions under the Rome Statute that enable 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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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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