Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
from Africa News blog:
Look down the list of the cases the International Criminal Court is pursuing – Congo, Central African Republic, Darfur, Uganda – and it doesn’t take long to spot the connection.
Of the dozen arrest warrants the court has issued, all have been against African rebels or officials. On Monday, the court begins its first trial - of Thomas Lubanga, accused of recruiting child soldiers to wage a gruesome ethnic war in northeastern Congo. Earlier this month, former Congolese rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba was in court for a decision on whether to confirm charges of ordering mass rape to terrorise civilians in the Central African Republic.
The judges are also deciding whether to indict their first head of state, Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, accused by the court’s prosecutor of instigating genocide and other war crimes in Darfur. All those being pursued by the prosecutor reject the accusations against them.
There is no doubt there were atrocities in all the conflicts in question - families, villages and countries scarred for ever by murders, rapes, mutilations, kidnappings and burnings.
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.
Radovan Karadzic has finally appeared in public without his disguise for the first time in more than a decade. The former Bosnian Serb leader looked gaunt after 11 years on the run as he stood before a judge at a United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague.
Some media commentators said he was a shadow of his former self but there were still signs of defiance from the man who defied the West for so long during the 1992-95 Bosnia war. Some said his performance brought back memories of the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serbian leader who died in detention in 2006 before his trial at The Hague ended.
The extradition of former Bosnian Serb
leader Radovan Karadzic on Wednesday to
face genocide charges in The Hague sends
a signal that the international community
means business in bringing fugitives to
Reinforcing the same message,
Serge Brammertz, chief prosecutor
of the International Criminal Tribunal
for the former Yugoslavia, called again
for the arrest of Bosnian Serb wartime
commander Ratko Mladic. Like Karadzic,
Mladic is accused of genocide over the
43-month siege of Sarajevo and the 1995
massacre of some 8,000 Muslims at
On 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:
Prosecutors 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.