Home | News    Thursday 29 July 2010

African Union moves aggressively to shield Bashir from prosecution

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July 28, 2010 (WASHINGTON) — The heads of states who attended the African Union (AU) summit in Kampala this week decided to take a more radical approach towards the International Criminal Court (ICC) indictment of Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir and adopted a final resolution that stresses non-cooperation with the Hague tribunal and also condemned the conduct of its prosecutor.

Over the weekend, delegates from the AU countries reportedly fought a fierce battle that led to removing language that reiterates previous positions on granting immunity to Bashir in Africa and criticizing the ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo.

Bashir was indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes in Darfur last year. This month the court added genocide to the charges, accusing him of orchestrating murders, rapes, and torture in the troubled western region.

The Sudanese leader himself has skipped this summit in retaliation to Museveni’s absence from his inauguration, according to Sudanese government sources who spoke to Reuters.

Some ICC states including South Africa along with Botswana and Uganda fought for the watered down resolution on ICC, while non-ICC countries such as Libya, Eritrea and Egypt wanted to maintain the hard-line approach.

However, the resolution on the ICC was changed on Tuesday to a more harsher version to the surprise of many observers who followed the summit closely and it remained unclear what happened behind the scenes at the final hours of the summit.

The text said that the summit "reiterates its decision that AU member states shall not cooperate with the ICC in the arrest and surrender of President al-Bashir of the Sudan.

Furthermore, it urged member states to balance their obligations to the ICC and those to the AU.

Last year, South Africa and Botswana publicly dismissed the non-cooperation decision last year at the summit held in Libya and warned that they will arrest Bashir should he sets foot on their territories.

The summit also expressed "concern over the conduct" of the ICC prosecutor and accused him "making egregiously unacceptable, rude and condescending statements on the case of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of the Sudan and other situations in Africa."

The ambiguous reference to "other situations in Africa" in the AU criticism of Ocampo would likely surprise observers given that out of the five cases handled by the ICC, three were referred by the African states themselves to the court for investigation.

The Kenya investigation which commenced this year was initiated by the ICC prosecutor after the government in Nairobi at its highest levels gave the court a green light to do so yet declining to refer it for political reasons.

In 2003, Ivory coast, a non-ICC member, announced their acceptance to the jurisdiction of the court to investigate crimes committed in the country since the events of 19 September 2002 caused by troops mutiny. No investigation has been opened so far.

The summit also decided "to reject for now the request by ICC to open a liaison office to the AU in Addis Ababa". Earlier this month, Judge Sang-Hyun Song, President of the ICC met with the AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping who reiterated the body’s commitment to end impunity.

But last week, Ping expressed disapproval to the idea of opening the office in Addis Ababa.

"The ICC has no office outside of its headquarters. The issue is why are they only interested in opening an office in Africa, why not in Europe or Asia," Ping told journalists.

On Saturday the AU Commission Chairperson who is a long-time fierce critic of the court, slammed the ICC and said that its prosecutor "does not care" if his actions jeopardize peace in Sudan and reiterated assertions that the Hague tribunal is "bullying" Africa.

NO TRIAL FOR BASHIR OUTSIDE AFRICA

On Tuesday, the AU Chairman, Malawi’s President Bingu wa Mutharika speaking to reporters questioned the legality of ICC jurisdiction over the Darfur case.

The UN Security Council (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.

"Let us look at the position of the ICC," said Mutharika. Do they really have a right to tell us what to do on this continent? It’s a question. Do they have a right to try Sudan, who’s not a member of ICC? I don’t know."

Mutharika stressed that Bashir will not be tried outside the continent under any circumstances.

"As chairman, I would not sweep the issue of El Bashir under the table,” Mutharika stated, but underscored that Bashir could not and would not be tried outside the African soil.

"We are not condoning impunity and we are not condoning any crimes that may have been committed by anybody, whether he’s a head of state or not, against humanity. But these things need to be proved. So we are asking the United Nations General Assembly to postpone the execution of that arrest warrant for 12 months, during which we will look at the issue and see if the evidence they have corroborates with ours" he said.

Mutharika did not say whether a new commission was to be formed to investigate the charges against Bashir and determine if they merit trial.

The AU final resolution also slammed the "blatant abuse of the principle universal jurisdiction" and called for "immediate termination of all pending indictments". It called on the international community to respect "the immunity of state officials when applying the principle of Universal Jurisdiction".

AFRICAN TRIAL OF BASHIR?

The Panafrican News Agency (PANA) reported that AU leaders deliberated behind closed doors on whether Bashir could stand trial before an African court but said that the proposal was defeated.

A source told PANA that the African leaders advised the Arusha-based African Court of Justice to explore its ability to undertake a war crimes trial or crimes against humanity in Africa.

Some leaders warned their compatriots, who would be indicted in future for rights abuses, including war crimes and genocide, that they would face justice.

"They explored the process of instituting an African trial of President Bashir, but again, we have no mechanism to do that. They had wanted to go the [former Chadian president] Hissene Habre way, but it has taken 10 years to try him (Habre) . This line of discussion was discouraged because it does not deliver justice," the source said.

The AU resolution made no mention of the panel, headed by former south African president Thabo Mbeki, it formed last year to examine among other things the ways of achieving justice in Darfur.

The commission called for a hybrid court with participation of foreign judges to try war crimes suspects and changes to Sudanese laws. It took no position on the ICC warrant except to say that the Hague-based tribunal cannot try all the suspects, effectively supporting its work.

However, since the endorsement of Mbeki’s findings by the AU, no progress has been made on the justice track and it is not clear when implementing the hybrid court proposal would commence. Khartoum gave a cool reception to the proposed court with some officials suggesting it is an infringement on the country’s sovereignty.

The former Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Maher who was one of the panel members said in an interview last year that the goal of the commission was to find a way out for the Sudanese president from the ICC charges. There was no official reaction from Mbeki though he has reportedly sent a strong worded letter to the Egyptian foreign ministry objecting to the statements made by Maher.

Darfur rebels at the time said that the statement by Maher reflects the true intention of the panel.

A leading Nigerian activist criticized the AU resolution on Bashir.

"Africans want redress for victims, not protection for alleged abusers," said Oby Nwankwo of Nigeria’s Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre.

"We expect more from our leaders than calls not to cooperate with the arrest of al-Bashir, who is wanted on charges of heinous atrocities in Darfur."

Last May, Amnesty international accused the AU of being complicit in human rights abuses on the continent and must be held accountable for the culture of impunity.

The AU should lead by example, but in certain situations it has become part of the problem,” the rights group said in a report titled “Amnesty International Report 2010: The State of the World’s Human Rights”.

(ST)

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  • 29 July 2010 06:26, by mikes

    I would like to appeal to African chairman, so call ping who is not Real Africa please you are half Africa don’t surrounded The Real criminal so call bashir of sudan,We know that you are the one who wanted to convinced-persuade Africa leaders to follow your own thinking like chinese,the papers that were circualetes around the summit table In Kampal, uganda was your own ideas not fore Africa leaders,how come ,your own idea should be follow by all Africa heads of state not to Arrest Bashir ,who is the criminal wanted by ICC .For the crimes he has been committed in sudan Dafur,please stopped stepped your hands and feet into sudan affairs ,where were you when the civilian where killed by this criminal call Bashir,does that mean the lived of one person is more importance than million of people who have died in the hand of Bashir.I hope Africa leaders would not support that silly ideas from this collaborated so call ping ,who is now supporting the criminal .

    repondre message

    • 29 July 2010 16:43, by Paul Ongee

      Do not worry folks. The most vocal critics like Jean Ping, Malawian President Bingu Wa Mutharika and all other Africans leaders who decline to cooperate with ICC are wasting their time. Few months away, all of them will be on board at the end of the day. Hence, watch out closely how things are playing out following the closer of AU summit. AU and its ally AL are not different in terms of inability to resolve conflicts either in Africa or Middle East.

      The only difference is; AL has some of its members in Africa but AU has non in Middle East. Because of its vast oil reserve, AL appears to be more influential in decision making than AU with its leaders of African origin. Economic and cultural differences appear to be playing distinctive roles here. We should not be afraid if the western world intervenes to some extent in our African affairs. Western influence is much better than Middle Eastern’s which is full of violence, terrorism and suicide bombings.

      In addition, most of these leaders are educated in the West and desperately need western technological know-how and continued economic support to run their countries in one way or another. Their problem is how to Africanize the western system of governance in order to avoid catastrophic wars, military coups, dictatorships and undemocratic systems that keep plaguing the continent for generations to come. In other words, ICC can help make African or Third world leaders think positive of how to at least build effective democratic institutions. However, all of them will certainly be on board with the ICC.

      repondre message

  • 29 July 2010 07:20, by Aduol Liet

    Malawi President Mr, Bingu Wa Mutharika is out of touch.

    What proved do you want to have when the real African Tribes are dying like Dogs in Sudan.? Stupidity can not be hide if you all Africa leaders are not Idiots why should you protecting the war criminal and denying those innocent people in Darfur regions for what reason.? Omar al Bashir has been recruiting more than 10,000 militia and gave them every tools they want to destroying civilian homes and their lives in the whole Darfuri regions was its that not a big problem.? Omar al Bashir has made tactics to painted war airplane with U.N. White color so that, when civilian saw that airplane then, they will not run a way in their Villages or not worry about it simply, because they will be thinking this White airplane is for the United Nation of world Food program and it was happen and the Sudan military killed many civilian in this way leaving traditional homes owner burning down in the region what evidence African leaders want to see if you guys are not stupid enough.

    After the announcement of Omar al Bashir’s indictment from the ICC by Judges, he did not even stopping his militiamen that, were clearly operating in Darfur regions showing that, this man he acting like Adolf Hitler when he let his government to murdering innocent Jewish people, because he hate them too much saying the Jewish people dominating the economic, this is what Omar al Bashir and others Arab in North Sudan have been doing to none Arab in many years in Sudan and African leaders don’t even see this man is trying to get ride with none Arab in Sudan what a fool the world Africa leaders are.

    There is one thing that, I can agree on for why some Africa leaders were been saying they want to protect Omar al Bashir from the indictment this is because there are million dollars pouring in Sudan which Bashir have been giving a way to Africa leaders so that, they will talks on behave of him in his case and this is make you guys silly. It simply showing that Africa leaders are out of touch, self-serving and they are lacking in everything even they don’t know what is law because most of them are dictators, while the whole world are talking about doing good things which they wanted to accomplishing in the 21st century and you guys Africa leaders are still being bribe just like kids this is a shameful to anyone who take side to defending the worsen war criminal and crimes against humanity and is wanted in Africa world and Africa must back a way from this Omar al Bashir, you must defend those innocent people dies for no reason in Darfur and perhaps, the Sudan as a whole.

    repondre message

  • 29 July 2010 08:47, by DASODIKO

    President of Malawi Mutharika said "We are not condoning impunity and we are not condoning any crimes that may have been committed by anybody, whether he’s a head of state or not, against humanity. But these things need to be proved. So we are asking the United Nations General Assembly to postpone the execution of that arrest warrant for 12 months, during which we will look at the issue and see if the evidence they have corroborates with ours".

    This is a most stupid statement to come out from the mouth of President of the country who currently chairs the AU heads of States!!! Or may be its true as I said before that Africa heads of states don’t read to follow whats going on in this world; but depends on their secretariats of their offices. Whenever they need anything they ask them what happen. The answer that they gave then the President is going to appear with it on the media. The guy does’t know that last year; the AU formed Independent panel of investigation from AU headed by former Presidnet of South Africa Thabo Mbeki. The conclussion of the panel was that the atrocities happened in Darfur and that peace must go hand in hand with justice.May be he was not told about the panel.

    I am still wondering what does Malawian Presidnet means by "we need approves"? I am afraid next time HE. Mutharika, will say we can believe Bashir killed innocent civilians unless we see the collected bones of Darfur victims like those of Rwanda genocide victims. Then another rehetorical questions may follow approve for us the DNA; despite I am sure the African heads of states are floating off; they know nothing about science and logic. Heee heeee hehehe where are you Dr. Banda?

    repondre message

    • 29 July 2010 16:42, by Paul Ongee

      Do not worry folks. The most vocal critics like Jean Ping, Malawian President Bingu Wa Mutharika and all other Africans leaders who decline to cooperate with ICC are wasting their time. Few months away, all of them will be on board at the end of the day. Hence, watch out closely how things are playing out following the closer of AU summit. AU and its ally AL are not different in terms of inability to resolve conflicts either in Africa or Middle East.

      The only difference is; AL has some of its members in Africa but AU has non in Middle East. Because of its vast oil reserve, AL appears to be more influential in decision making than AU with its leaders of African origin. Economic and cultural differences appear to be playing distinctive roles here. We should not be afraid if the western world intervenes to some extent in our African affairs. Western influence is much better than Middle Eastern’s which is full of violence, terrorism and suicide bombings.

      In addition, most of these leaders are educated in the West and desperately need western technological know-how and continued economic support to run their countries in one way or another. Their problem is how to Africanize the western system of governance in order to avoid catastrophic wars, military coups, dictatorships and undemocratic systems that keep plaguing the continent for generations to come. In other words, ICC can help make African or Third world leaders think positive of how to at least build effective democratic institutions. However, all of them will certainly be on board with the ICC.

      repondre message

      • 29 July 2010 17:54, by Truth_Seeker

        African Union is a Luciferian Institution

        repondre message

      • 29 July 2010 18:07, by Kon Paul Awenchol

        Dear readers.
        Jean Ping and Mutherika have made African Union to be a commission of no self confidentiality toward African people, they must not co-relate to build or touch anything in Sudan policies rather then Darfur problem.the act of African Union is at a mere standard were money can be put forward to conceal the act or righteous. I just can not understand why they term themselves as leaders of Nations.poor African you will never get any head way unless you put aside your inconvenience amongst yourselves. Bashir you are defending from persecution have been calling Sudan an Arab state. POOR what is your role toward this policy.

        THE TRUE CITIZEN.

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