October 23, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — An African Union (AU) report that recommended formation of hybrid courts and changes to criminal law to deal with right abuses in Darfur will face stiff opposition from the Sudanese government according to a newspaper report.
- Former South African President Thabo Mbeki (R) hands to the chairperson of African Union Commission Jean Ping, the report compiled by the high level panel on the Darfur crisis, at the African Union (AU) headquarters in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, October 8, 2009 (Reuters)
This month an AU panel led by former South African president Thabo Mbeki, that submitted its report on ways to achieve peace, justice and reconciliation in Sudan’s western region of Darfur.
The pan African body formed the commission weeks before the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for the Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir.
Many observers and Darfur rebel groups argued the Mbeki panel was established to shield Bashir from ICC prosecution.
The 148 pages report obtained by Sudan Tribune stated that the Hague tribunal will not be able to go after all those involved in Darfur atrocities that would “leave impunity for the vast majority of offenders in Darfur, including virtually all direct perpetrators of the offences”.
The findings of the mission indicate an approach where the ICC work would now be limited to the six individuals already charged by the court with hybrid courts to try other suspects.
Sudan will likely view the recommendations as contrary to the position of the African Union (AU) which harshly criticized the ICC and its prosecutor for moving against Bashir.
The London based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper quoted informed sources in the Sudanese foreign ministry as saying that “it has reservations on parts of the report and reject other [parts]”.
The sources further said that the Sudanese delegation to the AU Peace and Security Council held in Nigeria next week led by 2nd Vice President Ali Osman Taha “will strongly reject” doubts raised in the report on the Sudanese judiciary.
The Mbeki panel has suggested that the Sudanese judicial system on its own is incapable of carrying out credible prosecutions in Darfur and calling for further changes within the legal system.
“Currently, the criminal justice response to Darfur is ineffective and confusing and has also failed to obtain the confidence of the people of Darfur. It will therefore require changes to be introduced within the Sudanese legal system to provide effective accountability for the different levels of criminal participation” the AU report said.
The Sudanese officials told the newspaper that the final position will be announced during the Abuja summit.
If the report is true it comes contrary to assertions by Sudanese officials that they will accept and implement the findings of the AU panel.
The Sudanese presidential adviser Ghazi Salah Al-Deen told the Qatar based Al-Jazeera TV in an interview last July that Khartoum “trusts the intentions of the panel and its evaluation because it is African and not stemming from a colonialist mentality”.
“We are awaiting whatever the Mbeki panel….we are satisfied with what whatever results from its recommendations” he said.
In the past the Sudanese government has vehemently rejected proposals for hybrid courts made by the Arab league and other Sudanese leaders including ex-Prime minister Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi saying its judiciary is capable of handling the cases.
However, Sudanese officials expressed willingness to carry out reconciliation as an alternative to judicial prosecutions.