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INTERVIEW: Legal expert downplays Darfur hybrid proposal

October 25, 2009 (WASHINGTON) – The proposal made by an African Union (AU) commission for hybrid courts to be formed for Darfur right abuses is “unrealistic” and “impractical”, a legal expert said today.

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Fench-Libyan lawyer Hadi Shalluf (Al-Jazeera TV)

The African Union Panel on Darfur (AUPD) established this year by the pan-African body concluded its fact finding mission on the conflict by recommending foreign judges to work along with their Sudanese peers to prosecute war crimes suspects accused of masterminding atrocities in the region.

The report also calls for significant changes to Sudanese laws and the judiciary as a prerequisite for adjudicating these cases.

But Hadi Shalluf, a French-Libyan advocate told Sudan Tribune that the recommendations will prove “impossible” to implement.

“They contradict the most basic principle for any country. No state can allow for foreigners to be part of its judiciary. This goes against the constitution. What government will allow outsiders to look at its records and classified military files as part of an investigation?” Shalluf said.

“Even if Sudan was to accept hybrid courts, the structure of the courts laid out by the panel will mean that Khartoum can interfere in its work or even obstructing it,” he added.

Past attempts by Sudan to initiate judicial investigations in Darfur abuses have not produced any results drawing skepticism from observers.

Shalluf lashed out at the AU saying its leaders established the panel out of fear that human right abuses in their countries will be exposed.

“The AU is not an organization serving the people. It is one that provides support and cover for dictators so they can continue their abuses against their citizens. It is nothing but a terrorist organization and no different from the Arab League,” he said.

He said that the African countries are attempting to “bypass international law and the UN Security Council resolution referring the Darfur case to the International Criminal Court (ICC)”.

“The ICC is investigating in Darfur because of the referral by the council. African countries approved of that when they could have objected. They are also voluntary signatories to the Rome Statute. If they don’t like how the ICC operates then they can simply withdraw from the treaty. This is ABC of international treaties” Shalluf said.

Asked about options Sudan has in response to the report, Shalluf said that Khartoum must either accept the ICC jurisdiction or ask for a UNSC mandate special tribunal.

“Sudan may say no now but sooner or later they will face international justice. Things may change and international pressure may force them to accept these options against their will” he said.

“If they don’t like the ICC they should request a tribunal. Outside these choices there is nothing Sudan can do. Their internal proceedings have proved to lack credibility and really it is too late for that,” Shalluf added.

Shalluf is a registered counsel at the ICC and was assigned the Darfur case to protect the interest of defense in the pre-trial phase until late 2006.

He has challenged the jurisdiction of the ICC over the Darfur case before the Pre-Trial Chamber I judges but his motions were rejected.

(ST)