Monday, December 19, 2011

ICC Prosecutor Reports to UN Security Council on Darfur Investigation, New Arrest Request

By Lisa Vigna

On December 15, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, outgoing Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) gave his 14th Report to the UN Security Council. The crux of his address was self-evident: he said that Sudanese President al-Bashir’s “destiny” is clear: he will face justice for alleged genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

Sudan’s Ambassador to the United Nations Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman strongly disputed Moreno-Ocampo’s allegations of war crimes against Sudanese officials, stressing that Sudan has not ratified the Rome Statute, and thus does not recognize the ICC's jurisdiction. However, most striking to the meeting's observers was Osman's lengthy counterargument which berated the Prosecutor for categorizing Sudanese actions as genocide.

According to Moreno-Ocampo, several ambassadors stated that “Sudan should cooperate with the court because it’s not about being a member of the ICC, but about complying with Security Council resolutions.” The United States was among the governments which made statements after the session closed to NGO observers.

The Prosecutor requested the council address the refusals by Malawi and Chad, States Parties to the Rome Statute, to arrest al-Bashir during visits to their countries.

Osman said Moreno-Ocampo has ignored the Sudanese government’s efforts to promote peace in Darfur and “falsely” sought an arrest warrant for Sudan’s defense minister, Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein, who has been strongly engaged in negotiations “to prevent the peaceful efforts of the government to establish peace and security in Sudan.”

“The execution of the arrest warrants will end crimes in Darfur,” Luis Moreno-Ocampo said to the Security Council. “The individuals sought by the court are still allegedly committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur. The world knows where the fugitives are. They are in official positions, controlling the Government of the Sudan.”

A panel of judges will study evidence filed by Moreno-Ocampo before ultimately deciding whether to issue a warrant for Hussein’s arrest.

As the torch is passed to the Chief Prosecutor-elect Fatou Bensouda, a Gambian lawyer who served as Moreno-Ocampo's Deputy Prosecutor, the world will be watching in anticipation to see if Moreno-Ocampo's prophecy is fulfilled. Will al-Bashir face justice for alleged genocide and crimes against humanity?

Meanwhile, civilians in Darfur continue to be subject to the Janjaweed militiamen, “despite numerous injunctions by this Council,” said the prosecutor.

Yet Moreno-Ocampo stands firm. “The Security Council resolutions shall be implemented. Millions of civilians in Darfur shall be protected.”

His nine year term ends in June 2012 and it seems he will not go gently into retirement.

The Council referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC six years ago after a UN inquiry found serious violations of international human rights where fighting has raged since 2003.

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