Home | Comment & Analysis    Tuesday 10 June 2008

Alex De Waal and Julie Flint flawed analysis on ICC Darfur role

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By Wasil Ali*

June 9, 2008 (WASHINGTON) – I must admit that I was deeply disappointed to read the article published today in The Guardian by Alex De Waal, a renowned Sudan expert and Julie Flint, co-author of “Darfur: A Short History of a Long War”.

The opinion piece titled ‘ICC approach risks peacemaking in Darfur’ was based on wrong assumptions that obviously led to wrong conclusions. De Waal and Flint argue that the latest report by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Luis Moreno-Ocampo is of questionable credibility.

Moreover both authors claim that the prosecutor’s announcement of his intention to present a new case next month against senior Sudanese officials for their role in Darfur war crimes, jeopardizes the peace process and deployment of peacekeepers in the region.

The two experts use Ocampo’s description of Darfur as a “crime scene” that is being targeted systematically by Khartoum, to conclude that his evidence is “purely circumstantial”.

First of all I am not sure how De Waal and Flint evaluated the prosecutor’s evidence if they have not seen it. The prosecutor’s report, presented last week, outlined new developments in the work done by his office in terms of the Darfur investigations. He did not say which specific cases he is investigating nor identify the individuals he intends to prosecute and of course did not present the evidence he has in his possession. The authors apparently misinterpreted the conclusions that Ocampo shared with the world implicating the Sudanese state, to think that this is equivalent to the evidence he will present to the judges in July.

Moreover it must be noted that anyone who closely followed the work of the ICC prosecutor in Darfur can easily see how meticulous he is about building a strong case. This was a key reason why his first investigation took almost two years to complete. He did not rely on the readily available conclusions of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur formed by the UN Security Council (UNSC) which included a list of 51 war crimes suspects. The prosecutor started his work from scratch saying his mandate is different than that of the commission.

Despite the numerous speculations on the individuals expected to be prosecuted and the mounting pressure on Ocampo he ended up charging a junior minister and a militia leader. This was a very disappointing outcome to many people including myself but I had to respect the fact that he had to meet a very high threshold for evidence required by the Rome Statue. Ocampo even revealed to the daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat on 7 March 2007 that the names of Ahmed Haroun and Ali Kushayb were not even on that list.

There is also a very basic yet common mistake in De Waal and Flint’s opinion paper. They make it sound as if the ICC prosecutor is the Alpha and Omega of the court. This is not true. Ocampo has to present his evidence to the judges who will determine the merits of the case. Needless to say that the judges are independent from the other organs of the court and thus it should not be assumed that they will always sign off on the prosecutor’s evidence. For example in the cases of Haroun and Kushayb the prosecutor requested summons to appear for them but the judges decided that he could not sufficiently prove that the suspects will surrender voluntarily so they issued warrants of arrest instead.

What I also found contradictory in De Waal and Flint’s analysis is that they questioned the credibility of his upcoming cases and implying they are more political in nature than judicial. They said that they “feel he [Ocampo] is going beyond the facts and risks jeopardizing the credibility of the prosecution”. But at the same time they fall short of pleading the prosecutor not to proceed with his cases saying it will hurt the political process in Darfur. On the one hand it is argued that Ocampo is politicizing a judicial case and then a few sentences later they ask him to be a politician and lay low at such a “sensitive time” in Sudan.

It must be clearly understood that the prosecutor is not a politician but a man of law. He was asked by the UNSC to investigate the war crimes in Darfur and he is carrying out his mandate accordingly. The responsibility for the deployment of UNAMID and the political process in Darfur lies with the UNSC and not with the ICC. If Khartoum was to retaliate against indictment of senior government officials by blocking peacekeepers and restricting humanitarian access then the international community must stand up to Sudan. The latter has an obligation under agreements that were signed and must honor it.

The ICC cannot be blamed for actions of the Sudanese government and they are not the ones responsible for protecting the people of Darfur or feeding them. Their function is to deliver justice by going after the criminals who created this humanitarian disaster in the first place.

Furthermore De Waal and Flint cannot speak for the victims and claim that prosecutions hurt their interests. After five years in the camps the Darfur refugees want to see justice done. Perhaps the two authors can refer back to interviews made with those refugees last year when they called for the Sudanese president and other senior officials to be prosecuted. They were taken aback that only Haroun and Kushayb were charged.

At a time when peacekeepers’ deployment to Darfur is severely lagging humanitarian access is curtailed it is not fair to try and make the justice component suffer the same fate. Sudan remains in denial over the crisis in Darfur and in the absence of international action nothing will change. If indeed the prosecutor was to freeze his investigations then how long should that last? At what point can the prosecutions resume? What is the benchmark and is it a guaranteed timeframe? It is almost a year after resolution 1769 and only few peacekeepers have made it to Darfur. Is the ICC responsible for that long delay or are is it the criminals in power who have no problem prolonging the misery of the Darfuri people.

* The author is a Sudan Tribune journalist, can be reached at wasiltaha@hotmail.com



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  • 10 June 2008 09:13, by lobutlonga

    Mr. Ali, I am also disappointed but not surprise at all by the article of these so called experts. First, I think we should stop calling anyone who writes a few pieces about Africa, or Sudan an expert because they are not and they will never be. Both De Waal and Flint are as ignorant about Darfur as any westerner is. They made a few attempts here and there mostly writing reports that are full of excuses for genociders in return for their next entry visas for Kharoum. So this particular report is a continuation of that game. secondly, the relentless campaign by Ocampo brings to the sportlight what some of these so called experst have been doing for all these years. De Waal and Flint are not happy to see that someone is outshinning them and talking real issues about Darfur. Otherwise, where is the peace process that they are fearing to be jeopardize? What is the status of the deployment of the hybrid forces that they so much fear would be halted. Certainly these "experts" don’t need any expertise to know that if Khartoum doesn’t have anything to hide then Haroun and Khushayeb should go and defend themselves in front of the court. How many more do these ’experts’ want dead in Darfur while they continue to defend Khartoum’s action in the name of cooperation. Real experts know that Khartoum doesn’t understand soft language.

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  • 11 June 2008 23:29, by Damanga

    The Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy is undoubtedly surprised and saddened by the article from Alex De Waal and Julie Flint as published in The Guardian. This organization has worked with the authors in collaboration on several occasions, and have continued to follow their work closely. I have always assumed that they were working to protect the people of Darfur, however, now it would seem as if they have made a change in sides if not had a change in heart. From the tone of the article, Alex De Waal and Julie Flint are nothing short of making excuses for the Sudanese government, and doing so for their own benefit. Needless to say, this behavior is outrageous and unacceptable and will, no doubt, lead to a lack of trust on the part of all Sudanese refugees who once thought them friends to the cause.

    It is difficult to believe that I have known and worked with these people, for quite some time actually. We have often exchanged information with regard to the people and situation in Darfur. It is mildly disturbing, to say the least, that these confidants are now intentionally blocking the ICC who, in these times of hardship for the people in Darfur, need all of the cooperation and support the world can give them. The global community has been made aware of the atrocities taking place in Darfur; the thousands of woman and young girls raped, and thousands of villages burned to the ground (often with families and children still inside), the over 450,000 people killed not to mention three million plus who have been displaced and are still targets for the Janjaweed militia. These attacks have been well documented, and the role of the government in this situation should, by this time, be perfectly clear. That being said, the international community should feel obliged to work with institutions like the ICC if there is any hope of assuring that this genocide will stop. What the people of Darfur need is that first step to be taken – for those fifty plus government officials to be tried and convicted.

    It is incredibly surprising that Alex De Waal and Julie Flint do not see it as fitting to persecute the Sudanese government and hold them accountable for crimes against humanity, instead, they have the gall to defend them and criticize the ICC who would finally grant justice to the people.

    A Note to Alex and Julie: What could possess you to regurgitate the same argument as the Sudanese government, who is, might I remind you, that very same government that has been not only condoning, but encouraging, the mass killing of its population? It is hypocrisy. If you, in your heart, have changed your opinions about saving the innocent lives of the people in Darfur, then that is on your own conscience, but please do not hamper those of us who still believe, who still have hope and faith. We are Darfurians and we are the victims. We have lost friends and family and some of us have no one left. Your articles once helped us, but if you could not commit to the cause, you should have just left things in the hands of those of us who truly care. How can you hear the stories of the victims and still be able to condemn those who would help them – who could guarantee them progress and justice?

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    • 12 June 2008 17:02, by Mabor Yiel

      Mr. Alex De Waal,

      It is really true and clear that there are people who shed a crocodile tears to the people of Darfur.

      How dare do you post your vague and bogus article to surprise the World and particularly the people of Sudan.

      Please, please, we warned you to keep your mind out of these Terrorism act and leave alone ICC prosecutors to act promptly and appropriately on Darfur genocide. Get survive with your family with money you got from Bashir and the wrong elements who were behind the atrocities in Darfur or else you will face a tremendous nightmares wherever you go eventhough you hide your self in Western World countries.

      Mabor Yiel,

      SudanTribune reader.

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  • 13 June 2008 09:45, by sudani

    Dear Mr. Alex De waal & Ms. Julie Flint

    It seems that all the world want you both to write just what THEY want.

    Please you have to continue writing your opinion , without prejudice .
    It is very clear that the film of Ahmed Haroun & Ali kushieb is a well fabricated & directed film , otherwise they could have shown their faces to every body .
    Please continue your very courageous articles & let’s hope that a logical mind might listen & think .

    Thanks to you , your voice is a light in the dark .

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    • 28 April 2010 11:28, by kardelen133

      A Stupid man like Beshir saç ekimi saç ekimi beleives that his terrorist religion has taken a
      total control saç ekimi of Sudan,but i want to warn that soon nor later if Sudan comes
      to its orgines saç ekimi some will cry with green tears instead of white,such crazy
      politics of an ankara evden eve ankara evden eve idiotic man like Beshir will never get to rest 1000 of years,
      just let him do ankara nakliye
      because a stupid child born by stupid parents always act like
      his background this is saç ekimi
      open that a chicken saç ekimi
      cannot produce a duck or a ankara evden eve nakliyat
      goat to
      sheep.Should Beshir keep evden eve nakliyat
      adding more fuel as the backet is full already,the consqueneces
      will be more worst than ever.just lets ankara evden eve nakliyat
      live and GOD is great to all our long suffering.
      because i never see a fucking son of bitch spending 250 million against his people simple
      a single man,while thousand are ankara evden eve nakliyat
      starving,dying lack of medicines and etc.Saç ekimi ve evden eve nakliyat ankara üzerine bilgiler.

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