Home | News    Wednesday 16 July 2008

France says no dialogue with individuals accused by ICC of war crimes

July 14, 2008 (NEW YORK) – The French envoy at the United Nations (UN) Jean-Maurice Ripert hinted that his government may freeze contacts with the Sudanese president Omar Hassan Al-Bashir if the judges International Criminal Court (ICC) decide to issue an arrest warrant for him.

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French Ambassador to the United Nations, Jean-Maurice Ripert (AP)

“The EU [European Union] rules are very clear. We have no dialogue and no cooperation with anyone indicted by the ICC; this is very clear” Ripert told reporters today at the UN headquarters.

However he stressed “this is not the case yet” referring to the fact the ICC judges’ decision is still pending.

The ICC’s prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked pre-trial judges on Monday to issue arrest warrants for Sudan’s head of state.

Ocampo filed 10 charges: three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder. Judges are expected to take months to study the evidence before deciding whether to order Al-Bashir’s arrest.

The French diplomat also suggested that his country will oppose any attempts to invoke article 16 of the ICC rules that empowers the UN Security Council (UNSC) to suspend prosecutions by the world tribunal.

“The position of France is very well known. We think that the judicial process should go on. The UNSC has seized the ICC with the case of Sudan” Ripert said.

“The UNSC should not mix up with the process, the due process of law” he added.

But in what appeared as a implying a compromise, Ripert said that it is “not too late for the Sudanese authorities to cooperate” with the ICC by handing over two suspects accused of war crimes in Darfur.

The judges of the ICC issued their first arrest warrants for suspects accused of war crimes in Sudan’s Darfur region a year ago.

The warrants were issued for Ahmed Haroun, state minister for humanitarian affairs, and militia commander Ali Mohamed Ali Abdel-Rahman, also know as Ali Kushayb. Sudan has so far rejected handing over the two suspects.

The European states are faced with a dilemma of being strong supporters of the court but fear a new wave of violence if Sudan’s president is charged by ICC of war crimes.

Sudan has not ratified the Rome Statue, but the UN Security Council (UNSC) invoked the provisions under the Statue that enables it to refer situations in non-State parties to the world court if it deems that it is a threat to international peace and security.