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Court to intensify efforts to arrest Sudan leader

Court to intensify efforts to arrest Sudan leader

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said Friday he plans to intensify efforts in the next six months to arrest Sudan's president and two other fugitives accused of war crimes in Darfur.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo told the U.N. Security Council that arresting President Omar al-Bashir is "first and foremost" the responsibility of the Sudanese government.
But he said the 108 countries that ratified the statute creating the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal are also required to arrest al-Bashir and two other fugitives _ a government security official and a militia leader. And he noted that the council, which referred the Darfur conflict to the court in 2005, has urged all countries to cooperate.
Al-Bashir was charged in March with orchestrating war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, where U.N. officials estimate up to 300,000 people have died and about 2.7 million have been displaced since 2003. He has refused to recognize the tribunal's authority, has since traveled to several countries allied to his regime that refused to arrest him, and has expelled more than a dozen aid agencies from Darfur, accusing them of spying.
Moreno-Ocampo said the cases of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Liberian President Charles Taylor "tell us that the implementation of a judicial decision against a head of state is a process that can take time, months or years."
"In the end, however, they all faced justice," he said.
Moreno-Ocampo said the Sudanese government also has the duty to arrest former Cabinet minister Ahmed Haroun and Ali Kushayeb, a janjaweed militia leader, who have been charged by the court with rape, murder and forced expulsion of civilians in Darfur. He said the government's recent appointment of Haroun, a former minister of humanitarian affairs, as governor of South Kordofan, was a violation of Security Council resolutions. Sudan, however, has said it will not hand anyone over to the court.
"In the coming six months, in accordance with my mandate," the prosecutor said, "my office will continue monitoring crimes and galvanizing efforts to arrest fugitives."
Richard Dicker, head of the international justice program at Human Rights Watch, said "the prosecutor put the council on notice of its obligation to come up with a framework for following through on its commitment to justice for the people of Darfur and detailed Khartoum's complete intransigence in the face of its own obligation to assist."
"Where the Security Council needs to go is a series of measures that individual members, and perhaps the council itself, would take against individuals accused, such as travel bans and asset freezes," he said.
Moreno-Ocampo thanked those who aided in the recent surrender of rebel leader Bahar Idriss Abu Garda to the court on war crimes charges stemming from an assault on African Union peacekeepers in September 2007 that left a dozen dead. He said the court's judges have not yet decided on the cases of two other individuals he recommended for prosecution in the same incident.
The prosecutor said he doesn't plan to open a new investigation during the next six months, but will look at new information about ongoing crimes. He said he will focus on decisions affecting the displaced, in particular the role played by Sudan's Humanitarian Aid Commission, the spillover of the Darfur conflict into neighboring Chad, and the use of child soldiers by different parties including some rebel movements.
"We are at a crossroads," he said. "The next six months will be crucial. Most of the millions of victims of crimes have lived in the camps for four years. Youths are unable to move around. There is no education, there are no jobs. If girls and women go outside, they are raped. If boys go outside, they are killed or, in some locations, abducted to fight."
"There is a generation of child soldiers in the making. There is a generation of victims faced with two options: they can leave the camps and die the same day; they can remain in the camps and die the day after," Moreno-Ocampo warned.
He stressed that "violence will bring no victory" and praised the commitment of Qatar to promote peace and the efforts of the United Nations and African Union to mediate a solution.
"For the sake of the Darfur civilians, all the parties to the conflict have to stop resorting to violence," he said. "This is the absolute priority."


Updated : 2022-01-23 07:07 GMT+08:00

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