Home | News    Tuesday 3 February 2009

AU backs Sudan president in ICC row; Khartoum rejects hybrid court

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February 2, 2009 (ADDIS ABABA) — The African Union (AU) has issued a statement calling on the UN Security Council (UNSC) to defer an indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir.

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Sudanese President Omer Al-Bashir arrives at the UN compound for a consultative meeting on February 1, 2009 before the opening of the 12th African Union summit in Addis Ababa (AFP)

The regional body has also vowed to lobby the UNSC for a resolution under Article 16 of the ICC Statute which allows the council to suspend the ICC prosecutions in any case for a period of 12 months that can be renewed indefinitely.

“The AU is seeking to mobilize support from the international community to suspend for 12 months the process launched against President al-Bashir, to give a greater chance to the peace process” AU Commission chief Jean Ping said during the summit meeting in Addis Ababa.

“At the same time, we encourage the Sudanese authorities to continue their efforts to find a definitive solution to the problem of impunity” he added.

The judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) are expected to issue a decision soon on charges made last year by prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo against president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir that include three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder.

The move worried many observers who fear a chaotic situation if an arrest warrant is issued for Al-Bashir.

African countries have taken the lead in criticizing the court with some accusing it of applying double standards.

“We think there is a problem with ICC targeting only Africans, as if Africa has been a place to experiment with their ideas” Ping told reporters.

“A judge should be impartial” he said. “The law should apply to everyone and not only the weak”.

The ICC is currently handling 4 cases consisting of Uganda, Central African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Darfur.

With the exception of Darfur all other cases have been referred voluntarily by their respective governments to the ICC for investigation.

The UNSC issued resolution 1593 under chapter VII in March 2005 referring the situation in Darfur to the ICC. At the time Tanzania and Benin voted in support of the resolution while Algeria abstained.

The African continent makes up the majority of the ICC members with 30 countries ratifying the Rome Statute which forms the basis of the court.

Ping said that the international community often denounces African leaders for failing to pursue justice at home, but questioned why similar action was not demanded for conflicts in Gaza, Iraq or Sri Lanka.

“We are raising this type of question because we don’t want a double standard. But we are not against fighting impunity. We have to judge our criminals ourselves” he said.

A senior Sudanese official hailed the position of the AU with regard to the ICC issue.

“Whatever decision the AU is going to take, we are definitely going to back it. As they have showed solid support to the Sudan in the past, we are expecting their backing to resume this time as well” Sudan’s presidential adviser Mustafa Ismail said.

But the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who was present at the AU summit took a different tone and warned that Sudan must adhere to any decision made by the ICC.

“He should fully cooperate with the decision of the ICC” Ban told a press conference on the sidelines of the summit.

African countries have last week endorsed what appears to be an alternative to the ICC for investigating the Darfur crimes.

Last week the AU asked former South African leader Thabo Mbeki to head a panel on how to reconcile the need for accountability in Darfur with opposition to calls for Sudan’s president to be prosecuted.

“I have written to President Mbeki to ask him to chair a high level panel to submit recommendations on how best to reconcile the fight against impunity (in Darfur) while also dealing with reconciliation and forgiveness” Ping said.

The deputy Sudanese ambassador to Ethiopia Akoy Bona Malwal told reporters that a committee formed by the African Union (AU) will evaluate the ability of Sudanese courts to look into crimes committed in the Sudan’s western region since 2003.

Malwal said that if the panel is not satisfied with the performance of Sudanese court then a hybrid court could be setup to conduct trials.

But today a senior official at the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in Sudan rejected any idea of hybrid court.

“Having non-Sudanese judges will undermine the credibility of Sudanese judiciary and its pride. However these [foreign] judges could be witnesses and we will not refuse that” the NCP political officer Mandoor Al-Mahdi told the Qatar based Al-Jazeera TV.

It is not clear if Mbeki’s panel will conduct actual investigations or simply observe judicial proceedings as Sudanese officials have implied.

In 2004 the UNSC formed a UN commission of inquiry to look into Darfur abuses headed by former President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Italian Antonio Cassese.

The commission concluded that the government did not pursue a policy of genocide in the Darfur region but that Khartoum and government-sponsored Arab militias known as the Janjaweed engaged in “widespread and systematic” abuse that may constitute crimes against humanity.

They further said that Sudanese judiciary is “is unable or unwilling” to prosecute those crimes and thus recommended referring the situation to the ICC.

(ST)

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  • 3 February 2009 07:20, by Freedom Fighter

    By asiding Hetler of Africa (Omer Albashir), African Union has failed africans and their aspriations for freedom and justice across the continent. African Union is nothing other than a tool in the hand of Arab League. So, Sudanese people must give up this so-called African Union and seek other alternatives for achieving justice and peace in their country

    repondre message

    • 3 February 2009 08:55, by Wilson Wutchok Dhal

      AU is for baking not peace and justice if it was for peace why not Darfur, Somalia and LRA issues should have been the agendas for the summit rather than to worse time telling us the improvement of the economy in the continent. talk but Ocampo will not listen to you. Bashir must go.

      repondre message

      • 3 February 2009 11:21, by Magos

        Dear president Bashir have you read Artical 16?,It indicated that everyone have the right to recognition everywhere as a person befor the law ,main that have to listen to the ICC and dependent yoursself with out AU,Arabia Legue, only your lawyer must there with you .You ’re in dangerous or critical life , because you have killed 3 million in Sudan.If we go to the reality you aren’t above the law.so don’t take it as simply thing. thanks

        Magos

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      • 3 February 2009 11:33, by gordon vucirine

        AU support to al Beshir who face’s a war crime and genocide cases indicate’s how selfesh African leaders are and egocentric. What they are after is their personal well being as leaders but not the well being of the citizen they lead.

        I call upon who ever made this statement to resign from his/her position because there is no moral intergrity on the support being made, actually by supporting a suspected criminal you are a criminal yourself. Why dont AU leave ICC to do the job they are supposed to do? if Al Beshir is innocent let him prove his innocent in the court. I wonder wether AU mine about the 300,000 life’s that perished in Durfur due to the action of Sudanese government headed by AL Beshir leaving him free means giving him opportunity to continue sheding more blood in the directives of AU, now we know. Damn you AU leaders who are supporting a war criminal.

        Ocampo and UNSC bravo to your stand, leave alone this so call AU, after all they are toothless dog in anyway what can they do? we are fully behind you do your job and bring justice in Durfur through the ICC dont give up by the presure of this politician you work is to deal with legal justice their work is politics this are two different things. Their call that by indicting beshir the peace process will fail is deceiptive, there is nothing call peace without justice and justice of this nature could only be attained through the ICC. The judiciary system in Sudan is corrupted and hence no rightful justice could be obtained within Sudan.

        God support your work ICC and Ocompo.

        repondre message

      • 4 February 2009 00:31, by Lil Jiok by laws

        When AU will stop kissing El-Bashir is ass?
        This is pathetic opinion for AU. Ashame on them for protecting Omar El-Bashir who committed a strong crimes in South for so many years, we had been swiped out in South since independent of Sudan.Today, all Countries in Afirca become friendly with South but, they never show no sympathy for 22 years of war.
        shame on black Africans who’s still believe in Arabs dignity. As amatter of fact Bashir most go to hell.

        repondre message

  • 4 February 2009 17:21, by Dinka Aliap Chawul

    AU backing Bashir on ICC cases wasn`t knew at all but international community and justice will take it cause even when Mr. Bona Malual who is inspire by money and president Kiir< for political reasons> supporting dictatorial and fascist regime of president Bashir.

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    • 4 February 2009 23:50, by sudanman

      what a hell is going on with AU? Africa union will never have nothing to do to help president Bashir any way.Unless the ICC did not have enough evidence to persecute Bashir.I don’t think there will be anyperson that will be worry about that.It will depend on ICC.
      thanks

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      • 5 February 2009 08:12, by william wol

        AU backs sudan president in ICC row is a childish idea of whoever supporting it. This organization formed purposely to safegaurd the life of Africans, stability and meaningful unity in the continent, therefore, whoever have not seen these criminallity acts being conducted by the wanted criminal/terrorist bashir is a pure blind. If Au is fearing of being arrested so did Turabi and many others in sudan leave us alone and don,t attempt to advice the world supper powers to differ the arrest warrant for bashir.

        William Wol

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