Home | News    Friday 21 January 2005

US opposes Hague trial for Darfur war crimes suspects

WASHINGTON, Jan 21 (AFP) — The United States backed prosecution of Sudanese suspected of committing atrocities in the troubled Darfur region but opposed bringing them before the International Criminal Court.

Hadj Suleiman, one of six arrested Sudanese men, shouts from a cell inside the court in Nyala, September 30, 2004. (Reuters).

"We have had a number of objections to the International Criminal Court, and therefore don’t believe it’s the best option for this," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.

The United States has refused to recognize the ICC, based in The Hague, fearing the court could be used to prosecute politically motivated charges against US diplomats or troops around the world.

But Boucher stressed the need to try those accused of commiting atrocities in Darfur, where an estimated 70,000 people have died in fighting between ethnic rebels and government forces and their militia allies since February 2003.

The United States declared in September that the bloodshed in the western region of Sudan constituted genocide and has called for concerted action to halt the violence.

Boucher said various options were under consideration to bring suspected Darfur war criminals to justice, including use of the International Criminal Tribunal set up in Tanzania to try Rwanda genocide suspects.

He said Washington was awaiting the results of a UN inquiry in Darfur and would then discuss the issue of prosecutions. "We want to find effective and appropriate means of accountability and will consider various options for doing that," he said.