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Update-Is ICC setting its sights too high in Sudan?

July 11, 2008

bashir1.jpgOn Friday I wrote that the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor was readying a genocide charge and arrest warrant for Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.  It came to pass today. A defiant Khartoum has said it will not bend to the court and has warned of an eruption of violence; the opposition too has said the warrant could threaten peace. Is this a case of justice versus peace and do the two have to be irreconcilable?

Here’s Friday’s blog:

BashirProsecutors at the International Criminal Court are readying arrest warrants for senior Sudanese officials, possibly even President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, sources at The Hague court have told Reuters. The Washington Post said it understood Bashir would face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

Would the world’s first permanent international criminal court be wise to take on a serving president? There is a precedent – another war crimes court in The Hague, the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia,  issued an indictment for Slobodan Milosevic while he was still president.

Milosevic did finally appear before the court to answer the charges, although his trial was cut short by his death. Supporters of that court said bringing top commanders to justice was essential if the Balkans were to find lasting peace.

But Sudan is not Serbia. Sudan expert Alex da Waal has warned that going after Sudanese leaders could embolden rebels in Darfur and reignite conflict. International aid organisations operating in Sudan fear a backlash.

Would it be wiser to work with Sudan’s leaders for peace rather than pursuing them through the courts? And what chance of securing arrests even if warrants are issued?

Comments

THIS IS NOT JUSTICE , INDICITNG A HEAD OF STATE WHILE UNABLE TO CHARGE EVEN A US SOLDIER IN IRAQ OR AFGANISTAN ,WHERE HUNDREDS WERE KILLED ……..IS THIS JUSTICE …………..THE WROLD KEEP A BLIND EYE ON THOSE REGIONS AND CHASE SUDAN TO HARGE THE SYMBOL OF SOVERGNITY……………..IT IS TOTALLY UNFAIR …..MR.OCAMBO WOULD YOU TELL US IF YOU CAN CHARGE US SOLDEIR ?????????????????????????.. I DON`T THINK PEOPLE OF SUDAN WILL TAKE THAT….THEY HAVE TO FIGHT THIS INEQUALITIES AND DOUBLE STANDARDS FOR THE LAST MAN…………..EITHER LIVE WITH DIGINITY OR DIE ……………..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Mr. maginus | Report as abusive
 

The ICC’s short record shows that the Court is better off without indicting senior officials like the president of Sudan. There are chances of violence escalating. The court would face challenges in securing arrest as shown in Sudan and in other countries like Uganda. Eventually people will lose faith in the Court which seems toothless. Those inclined to commit atrocities would not be deterred either as they reflect on a record of failure to bring justice by this Court.

It appears the Court already has its plate full without indicting more people. We are yet to see any single person being successfully tried by this Court. Adding more people as its targets obviously need more resources which I am not sure the Court has.

The Court will also face cooperation challenges from the a divided international community. So far China is largely blamed for the continued impunity in Sudan but many would also know that the US is not committed to the ICC and has interests as well in Sudan.This does affect the prospects of arresting those indicted.

Once those in power are indicted, I would suggest that a likely consequence is that they would want to continue in power forever to lessen their chances of ever being brought before the Court. As long as they are in power they control the internal criminal justice mechanisms/institutions like the police. They can decide to stay in power at all costs.

I think all this would caution the ICC against expanding its reach beyond what it can cope with.

As for the other means of securing peace it appears, without discussing in detail, that this could be a viable option which so far has also been affected by the commitment of the international community.

Posted by tinorwiranyika | Report as abusive
 

INDICTING A HEAD OF STATE WHILE SERVING SOMEHOW SEEMS PROBLMATIC, BUT IF YOU LOOK AT WHAT HE HAS COMMITTED, KILLING, TORTURING AND RAPING INNOCENT CIVILIANS IN DARFUR RGION, THEN HE DESERVE TO BE BROUGHT TO JUSTICE ATLEAST RESTRICTED FROM TRAVELIG AROUND THE WORLD GATHERING SUPPORT FOR HIS BRUTAL REGIM.

NO DOUBT THERE ARE MANY ARGUE THAT ICC’S DECISION TO PUBLISH THE NAMES INCLUDING THE PREIDENT’S NAME AS UNWISE, WISE OR NOT IT IS ABOUT TIME TO PUT AN END TO THE CONTINUED GENOCIDE IN DARFUR.

I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO URGE THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY NOT TO TURN BLIND EYE THIS TIME, BECUASE PEOPLE IN DARFUR ARE WAITING JUSTICE AND PEACE

Posted by hussien | Report as abusive
 

Indicting head of state in a country like Sudan , is simply equales to dissolution of the state , racial tensions and civil wars , Iraq is a good example , the solution of Darfur conflict is far eyond just charging the president of Sudan, it should take into account the multiple rebel movement which are proliferating like an aggressive cancer,.
One improtant point is the fact that charging persons who share the same ethnicity with ignoring rebel movements like JEM (which also committed crimes against it own people …e.g abducting under-aged to fight) ,will send a message to a alarge sector of Sudanese as racial targeting ……and would repeat the exact same senario of Shiji against Sunnis , this will stabilize the whole Horn of Africa , the little oil that being produced will stop flowing ……….the south will suffer as it depends on oil as the only source of income …….it would be a great mess ……….and we will be regreting the idea again as we done in Iraq………not to mention the frutile enviroment for terroist personeel amid the anticipated chaos resulting from this indictment…………….wake up before it is too late.

Posted by Mr. maginus | Report as abusive
 

sorry………….i meant de-stabilize the Horn of africa.

Posted by Mr. maginus | Report as abusive
 

it is about time leaders like that in Sudan, and many other countries around the world are brought to justice!
It will be a great day when he hangs for his crimes of genocide! The UN is completely useless, just a money pit that gets controlled by the petty wishes of oil hungry countries like China, Russia etc or other dictators from around the world. Next should be Mugabe!

Posted by Jon | Report as abusive
 

Opheera McDoom’s article on the likely backlash in Sudan, is based on initial reports from international organizations and US sources. As news personnel are learning again, getting the background information right helps to understand the meaning of what sources are telling you. For instance, in McDoom’s case, USAID is mis-characterized as “the humanitarian arm” of the State Department. If this were the case, we might assume that USAID was speaking as the State Department. But of course, this is not the case. The US has purposefully created an independent agency to deal with international development, apart from the “high politics” of the State Department. So when USAID says that they are cutting off their programs, you can trust it’s because of real fears and not political posturing.

Posted by Todd | Report as abusive
 

I just read the featured article on the African Politics Portal and I believe that is actually the best description of the problem in Sudan.
It’s called ICC and Darfur: people or politics?
http://codrinarsene.com/2008/07/icc-darf ur-indictment/

Posted by Linda Davis | Report as abusive
 

The ICC’s move is a great insult and an unwise decision which shows double standards and lack of respect. It is indeed a political ploy and a desperate attempt to undermine the peace process, development and democracy transition in this country. Now, will the arrest and indictement of the top officials in Sudan end the conflict? How about the rebel leaders who travel around the world freely and with their hands stainded with the blood of innocent?Why didnt Ocambo dare to try US every day killings in Iraq and Afganistan?I just need to understand this corrupt ICC.

 

to disregard these atrocities based on the threat of instability is to enable further crimes to go unpunished and eventually unnoticed. then who will clean up the mess I think we already know.

Posted by David | Report as abusive
 

No one is above the law.

What has been happening in Sudan is totally acceptable and the Sudanese government has a duty to all Sudanese nationals to protect, they have failed in this and therefore the must answer for it. We cannot expect the family and friends of the victims to charge the Sudanese regime; they are too weak to do so. We can not expect the Sudanese legal system to do so, they are politicised. Some one has to do it and it falls to ICC. It has taken the ICC years to act – the wheels of justice turn very, very slowly – now that they have. That is great!

Dictator can hold their own people to ransom, but we should never ever let them do the same with the rest of the world; it would be the worst mistake we ever did. Where would it end, you have to ask yourself!

Posted by Wilbert Mukori | Report as abusive
 

I am not sure what the dudes in the ICC are responsible for. A lot of war crimes have been done to the poor people of Africa, Asia and Latin America. However, ICC was silent when such things were happed. If ICC is really woried about War crimes there are a dozen of African leaders that need to be accused. The first one should be Melese Zenawi of Ethiopia who has been killing innocent civilians at differnet part of the country and in Somalia. Then comes Albeshir and Mugabe.

Posted by Ermias | Report as abusive
 

Simply an irresponsible act of ICC that totally disregards lives of nearly 20 thousand international aid workers, UN personnel and need of daily feeding for million vulnerable in Darfur, for whom ICC and Americans are shedding crocodile tears.

Posted by Kaif Shahriar | Report as abusive
 

Regrettably ‘justice’ has become a JOKE in the hands of ICC, provoked by UN Security Council, where all permanent members have serious Human Rights violations allegations against themselves.

Now with this, nearly 50 thousand aid and humanitarian workers are forced to suspend their operations and leave the country immediately. The suspension of humanitarian operations and supporting security operations would result into the death of more than 2 (two) million helpless Darfurians.

Let us not forget, those are talking about justice and sufferings of Darfurians in the hands of Sudan’s Government, failed shockingly to provide required material support for UNAMID in more than a year’s time in terms of troops, helicopters, and aircrafts. Had they been keeping their commitment, a strong military could have protected humanitarian works today.

Posted by Ab Hassan | Report as abusive
 

Kaif Shahriar

You are absolutely right UN workers, the refuges and all the other totally innocent people’s lives are now at increased risk because of what the ICC has done. But we should remember three things:

1) Millions of innocent people have suffered and Hundreds of thousands of lives lost in Sudan and continue to do so to this day as a result of what the Sudanese government has done or failed to do. That is exactly what the ICC is charging them of. If the Sudanese regime believes it has done nothing wrong then they have nothing to fear. What the ICC and all of us touched by what has been happening in Sudan can not accept is to see this human tragedy go on unchallenged for another day longer. Yes, not even when risk that it will get even worse is real.

2) What the Sudanese regime must understand is that they, not the ICC, are responsible and will be held to account for any further suffering and deaths in Sudan.

3) The one thing that encourages dictators to commit serious crimes against humanity repeatedly so that their victims are counted in hundreds, thousands and even millions is the belief that they ARE above the law- no one will dare question them on anything. So the two questions all those who have criticised the ICC’s move have to answer is a) Is President Omar Hassan al-Bashir above the law? If the answer is no, and I hope it is then b) The conflict in Sudan has been raging now for nearly two decades, when is the “good time” for him to be told he is not above the law?

This was not an easy decision for the ICC to make. What good has come out of doing nothing, which is what it has done in the past two decades? Yes there is a real risk that there will be even more suffering now but at least it was the right move and also there is a real chance now that there can be closure to this conflict. There is real hope now lasting peace in Sudan, justice is being done for can never be peace without justice.

Posted by Wilbert Mukori | Report as abusive
 

Sovereign Immunity – you can’t try or charge a head of state.

the ICC lacks jurisdiction, Sudan is not a signatory to the ICC.

The US. won’t sign it either for fear they will get accused.

However what is clear is that the ICC is a puppet of the US. and Britain and acts on their behalf. No action will be taken about them arming and organising the paramilitary groups attacking the Sudan from which the problem has come.

Posted by Dick | Report as abusive
 

This is total nonsense. It shows the hippocracy of the ICC and those that support it. While the infracidal war in darfur needs to be resolved peacefully, I do not believe indicting a seating head of state and whose state is not even a signatory to the agreement could bear any useful fruit.

Posted by weqaw | Report as abusive
 

Weqaw, I beg to differ. The ICC indictments are playing a pivotal role in shaping, not present-day Africa but tomorrow’s Africa. There are now greater consequences than living in exile for the rest of your life for these men that inflict so much unncessary sufferring. Charles Taylor, Kony, and whoever else comes will have something extra to consider before they unleash brutality on innocent civilians. I’m a dreamer but I hope that one day the AU will form a similar more localized accountability system headed by distinguised God fathers of Africa to guide and discipline these “GUNstitutions” that rule most of Africa.

Posted by Dennis Kasolo | Report as abusive
 

That Al-Bashir has been given overwhealming support by Arab countries only gives strength to the belief that there has been a long term goal by the Arabs to gain control of the upper portion of Africa .Just as the Ghanaain kingdom was once where Libya now is, before they were driven off by the Arabs and thier country stolen.The Dogon homeland was also over run by arabs and the Dogon fled into the desert ,they tell of the exact same tactics being used in Darfur today ,the men and old people were killed the women taken as slaves and the children brainwashed by Mullahs till there was no African culture remaining .There is cultural genocide still contiunuing today ,African cultural practices being replaced by inferior arabic culture and it is still being implanted right across Africa but there is still hope one day the Africans will unite and fight back but till then it is up to the international community to give support and help the Sudanese free themselves from this muderous regime and it’s Arabic imperialist backers

Posted by Kevin Doyle | Report as abusive
 

I will ask one question all of you, and it is what is the different between Al- Bashir and Husnil Mubaarak the president of egypt ? why westerners building case against bashir not Husni Mubarak? Not Mugabe, Finally, i want to know the international crime court is it what westerners established to judge African leaders who, don’t fulfill their commandments?

 

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