Turn of the screwdriver – genocide, justice or peace for Darfur?

August 5, 2008

Girl at Zam Zam camp in North Darfur holds her sleeping brother

Sudan’s ambassador to the United Nations Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem says Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, is “a screwdriver in the workshop of double standards” for seeking to prosecute the president of Sudan, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, for genocide in Darfur.  He rejects the term genocide and says the prosecutor is unfairly picking on Africa’s largest country and ignoring war crimes elsewhere.

Moreno-Ocampo accuses Bashir of launching a genocide campaign in 2003 that was intended to wipe out three ethnic groups in Darfur, a desolate and remote region of western Sudan where oil was discovered in 2005. He says the Sudanese leader used mass murder, rape, deportation and “slow death” by starvation and disease to kill tens of thousands in Darfur.  Moreno-Ocampo wants the ICC judges to issue an international arrest warrant for Bashir.

Khartoum rejects the charges and says it will never hand over any of its citizens to The Hague, where the ICC is based. Like the United States, Russia and China, Sudan is not a party to the ICC, though the Security Council referred the issue of Darfur to the court in 2005.

Abdalhaleem says that if the judges decide to indict Bashir it will ignite a “curtain of fire” that will engulf all of Sudan and the region. He has yet to provide details, but U.N. peacekeeping officials say they are worried.

China, Russia, South Africa and others fear an indictment of Bashir would shatter the fragile peace process in Darfur and have vowed to push the Security Council to freeze the ICC investigation of Bashir. The United States, Britain, France and other Western powers say they do not want to tamper with the independence of the ICC and oppose intervening.

The African Union, the Arab League and non-aligned nations have also urged the council to suspend any ICC indictment of Bashir. Russia’s U.N. envoy Vitaly Churkin has said that the countries calling for a suspension comprise roughly two-thirds of the earth’s population.

Those arguing for a suspension say the top priority should be the full deployment of all 26,000 U.N.-African Union peacekeepers (only 9,500 are there now) and a swift end to the 5-year-old conflict in Darfur, in which international experts believe at least 200,000 have died, with another 2.5 million left hungry and homeless.

Richard Dicker, an international justice expert at the New York-based Human Rights Watch, says the opposite is true — nothing could be better for peace in Darfur than to indict, arrest and try the man believed to be responsible for orchestrating the genocide.

What do you think?  Is the West guilty of applying double standards for justice in the developing world?  Do you fear a “curtain of fire” in Africa if Bashir is indicted? Should the world push for peace in Darfur now and worry about indictments later?  Or should justice come first for the victims of war crimes in Darfur, whatever the cost?


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Sadly, it would seem that the strong political opposition to indicting Bashir will win the day, as the special interest of those governments who are poised to expand their influence in this given area, will most certainly be super charged to epic levels whenever “oil” is in the bargain! In addition, one must consider that a number of the nations in question, have never been overly concerned about the tragic deaths of any citizens, including their own!

I would go so far as to say that it’s universally known around the world, that at least one or two of those afore referenced nations have no real translation for the word “genocide” in their vocabularies. The only way they would understand the enormity of this term, is by it’s resemblance perhaps to one of the many “National Economic Great Step Forward” plans or something similarly entitled in their nations past history.

For those nations who would encourage the full prosecution of all those guilty for Crimes against Humanity, I would suggest a stronger effort to save those who continue to suffer daily. To continue to publicize the plight of these poor victims and keep forever in the spotlights, all those who might believe that they will get away with murder, with the help of those Dissenting governments.

Posted by Liam O’Leary | Report as abusive

When an overwhelmingly large majority of UN member countries oppose to the indictment of president Bashir. ICC which is under UN must listen,although it may be against the wish of USA and EU.

It is a fact that Sudan,especially in Dafur is under grim political conditions,but,this is not restricted to Sudan only,similar situations are occuring in Isarael and Afghanistan,to cite just two.Then,why only pick on Sudan?Mr Ocampo has the duty to clear this doubt to claim any credential as an impartial prosecutor.

The Dafur problem need to be solved,the qiicker the better,but the issue has become so complicated with outsiers’ interferences,politically,millitarily and now judicially that it will not be solved soon,and blaming Bashir alone will not help either.

Posted by Sam Vitel | Report as abusive

Bashir must be accorded the same suffering he has inflicted on others, ICC justice does not befit the crime this nonentity and his blood thirsty henchmen have heaped on humanity.

Posted by Nduka Tolefe | Report as abusive

As an American, it is painful to look into the Darfur situation. We are not accustomed to genocide occurring in this modern age. It may be argued, though, that Americans are a cause of a similar situation in Iraq. To see this racism is numbing to the senses and one reason the problem of Darfur has not been solved by powers in America that have the influence necessary to stop the genocide. Sometimes a pray is not enough to change history. Action must be taken, at a great expense in money and lives, to stop this.

Posted by alan | Report as abusive

Al-Bashir is an African hero for sure, because you can feel he had became an African hero. Bashir he have been leading his people for a while in a better way. However, Bashir he’d better to build a nuclear plan for his country as well. Because westerns are looking for Oil, so they know how to blame a stable country, then to destroy for Oil purposes like Iraq. Westerns are looking for Oil again, and the only way they are blaming for Bashir is to get Oil from Sudan………..

Posted by Feisal Mohamed Derie | Report as abusive