ICC Chief Prosecutor Complains About Lack of Political Support for Darfur Arrest Warrants

by Julian Ku

I’ve long suggested that the ICC arrest warrants in Darfur will likely be forgotten or abandoned in favor of pursuing a comprehensive peace deal for Darfur. Earlier this week, Kevin pointed out U.N. Secretary General Ban-ki Moon did privately raise the issue of outstanding ICC arrest warrants for alleged Sudanese war criminals during his visit to Sudan. But recent comments by the ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo suggest that the overall trend is toward a slow abandonment of the ICC (at least in Darfur). The LA Times reports:

The prosecutor for the International Criminal Court challenged world leaders Thursday to not leave criminal justice off the agenda as they convene at the U.N. to discuss Darfur.

Sudan has refused to hand over a government minister and a militia leader accused by the Hague-based world court in May of orchestrating mass killings in Darfur. Months later, prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo says, he is more frustrated by the refusal of top United Nations officials and others to push for the arrests because they fear it would jeopardize pending peace talks and the deployment of peacekeepers.

“When nobody is talking about the criminals and pressing for their arrest, Khartoum interprets that as a lack of resolve,” Moreno-Ocampo said in an interview. “We must break the silence.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that in a visit to Darfur this month during which he met with Sudan’s president, Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir, he discussed the arrest warrants with him twice. But Ban refused to describe Bashir’s response, citing the president’s right to confidentiality.

But U.N. officials familiar with the proceedings said that Bashir brushed Ban off by saying that Sudan was not a signatory to the world court and did not recognize its jurisdiction. Ban told colleagues he did not plan to raise the issue in today’s summit, which he is co-chairing, and believes that pressing Bashir would disrupt the personal rapport he is trying to build with the Sudanese president.

Sudan’s ambassador to the Hague told Moreno-Ocampo’s chief of staff that when the secretary-general’s most recent report on Darfur did not mention bringing the suspects to trial, Bashir realized the world court was “off the agenda.”

“He told us, ‘You are marginal now.’ And Bashir got much more confident,” Moreno-Ocampo said.


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