ICC prosecutor to request UNSC help on arresting two Darfur war crimes suspects
Saturday, June 12, 2010
June 10, 2010 (WASHINGTON) — The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Luis Moreno-Ocampo will brief the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) on Friday afternoon where he is expected to press the council for action regarding two suspects who are charged with 51 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s Western region of Darfur.
The International Criminal Court’s Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo (Reuters)
In April 2007 the ICC judges issued arrest warrants for Sudan former interior minister of state Ahmed Haroun and militia commander Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-al-Rahman, also known as Ali Kushayb. Sudan refused to hand over the two men and halted cooperation with the court ever since.
The UNSC referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC in 2005 under a Chapter VII resolution after a U.N. commission of inquiry concluded that Sudan is unable and unwilling to conduct trials for those who perpetrated violence in the war ravaged region.
The Darfur conflict began in 2003 when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated regime and state-backed Janjaweed militias, fighting for resources and power in one of the most remote and deprived places on earth.
Up to 300,000 people may have died from the combined effects of war, famine and disease, according to a UN official. Sudan claims the death toll from the war does not exceed 10,000.
"What we need now is to declare that the Security Council will ensure their arrest," Ocampo told Reuters. "Monday is a good opportunity."
The council will discuss Sudan on Monday. In his six-month report to the council on Friday, Moreno-Ocampo said he would brief the 15 members on a recent ICC decision that the Khartoum government is protecting Haroun and Kushayb.
In late May the ICC judges formally asked the UN Security Council to intervene given Sudan’s "lack of cooperation" in pursuing Haroun and Kushayb.
"After taking all possible measures to ensure cooperation", the court said, it has concluded that "the Republic of Sudan is failing to comply with its cooperation obligations ... in relation to the enforcement of warrants of arrest" the judges said.
"The Security Council is vested with the power to address and take any action in respect of Sudan’s failure to cooperate with the court,".
Ocampo suggested that the UNSC needs to show the political will to act to nab the suspects.
"We know where Haroun is," he said. "Normally fugitives from justice are in hiding. In this case, Ahmed Haroun is the governor of South Kordofan."
Some Western diplomats have suggested that Haroun’s presence in South Kordofan, a province that includes the contested oil-rich town of Abyei that straddles the North-South border, was a cause for concern. The ICC prosecutor agrees.
"The fact that Ahmed Haroun is in Kordofan is not a good sign," Moreno-Ocampo said. "His career is basically attacking civilians."
Human Rights Watch (HRW) echoed the calls by the ICC prosecutor saying the UNSC must press Sudan to cooperate.
"Sudan has thumbed its nose at the Security Council’s authority for too long," said Elise Keppler, international justice senior counsel at Human Rights Watch in a statement today. "Council members should make it clear that Sudan cannot ignore its obligation to cooperate with the court."
"The Security Council made the court’s investigation of atrocities in Darfur possible," Keppler said. "Now it needs to work to ensure that suspects are brought to the dock to face trial."
"Without its own police force, the ICC relies on cooperation to execute warrants," Keppler said. "It is imperative for both the court’s work and the Security Council’s own credibility that the council acts strongly on the finding of non-cooperation."
However, it is not expected the council will take any action given known positions by Russia and China supporting Sudan in face of any punitive measures.
Last May Sudan has said it secured the support of Lebanon, a non-permanent member of the UNSC, in face of the ICC.