SUDAN WATCH: US opposes global court use for Darfur war crimes suspects

Saturday, January 22, 2005

US opposes global court use for Darfur war crimes suspects

According to a Washington Times report here below, findings of the UN's investigation into genocide in Darfur may come as early as Monday.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) based in The Hague was set up specifically to handle cases concerning suspected war criminals. Setting up an ad hoc court is extremely costly, which is one of the reasons for the creation of the ICC. If an ad hoc court was set up for Sudan simply to accommodate the Americans, one would guess the US would have to foot the bill. Imagine how many peacekeepers for Darfur could be hired instead.

The US is aligning itself with several rogue states that are refusing to recognise the ICC. Britain and other countries have no problems signing up to the global court, so it is not easy to understand why the US refuses to be subjected to the same standards.

No doubt Kofi Annan is not too sad watching the US squirm on this issue, after all it was the US who made a big deal out of declaring Darfur as genocide. It is still unclear what they intended doing about it. They have ruled out US troops for Darfur and refuse to join forces in bringing the perpetrators of atrocities committed in Darfur, to a global court. The US appears to have no firm alternative even though the UN inquiry, carried out over the past three months, will report its findings in a few days time.
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An AFP report today confirms the US has backed prosecution of Sudanese suspected of committing atrocities in Darfur, but opposed bringing them before the International Criminal Court.

"We have had a number of objections to the International Criminal Court, and therefore don't believe it's the best option for this," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.

The US has refused to recognise the ICC, based in The Hague, fearing the court could be used to prosecute politically motivated charges against US diplomats or troops around the world.

Boucher said various options were under consideration to bring suspected Darfur war criminals to justice, including use of the ICC set up in Tanzania to try Rwanda genocide suspects. He said Washington was awaiting the results of a UN inquiry in Darfur and would then discuss the issue of prosecutions.

"We want to find effective and appropriate means of accountability and will consider various options for doing that," he said.
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A report in the Washington Times today says the US has urged European officials to consider setting up a new court or empowering UN lawyers who are now prosecuting accused perpetrators of genocide in Rwanda to take on Darfur cases, two senior Bush administration officials said. Extracts from a report by the Washington Post:

European envoys have cited US misgivings about these ad hoc courts in pushing for the ICC. UN ambassadors from Britain, France and Denmark told John Danforth, the former US representative to the UN, in a private meeting earlier this month that the ICC was the best option for obtaining justice in Darfur.

"From our point of view, it doesn't make sense to create another special court but rather to use the international court we have just created for these instances," said Germany's UN ambassador, Gunter Pleuger, who was not at the meeting but is a leading European advocate of the ICC.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan backed the Europeans on Wednesday, saying the ICC, which is based in The Hague, is the "most logical place" to try Sudan's accused war criminals. "They need to be held accountable so that we don't give the impression that impunity is allowed to stand," Annan said.

Court advocates have urged the Bush administration to waive the legal provision that bars US cooperation with the ICC. "There is not a possibility of any unfair prosecution of Americans resulting from an ICC investigation" in Darfur, said Richard Dicker, an expert on the court at the New York-based advocacy organisation Human Rights Watch.

The US, he noted, has previously "favored a Security Council trigger" for ICC investigations, "and that's exactly what this is."

Even some critics of the ICC have encouraged the administration not to rule it out for Darfur.

"I'm of two minds," said Lee A. Casey, a Justice Department official under President Ronald Reagan who has written extensively about the ICC.

"On the one hand, I think it's important for the United States not to indulge the court until some fundamental areas are settled, most importantly that it does not have jurisdiction over US citizens," Casey said. But "no one has actually come up with a much better idea, so perhaps that is something to be considered," he added.
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UPDATE: SA police prepare for duty in Darfur

South African news online Jan 22 reports the South African Police Service (SAPS) is readying a contingent of peacekeepers for service in Darfur. "Discussions are under way and arrangements are being made," national police spokesperson told reporters today.

Cabinet on Friday announced that it had approved a request by the AU for South Africa to contribute a contingent of 100 police officers to Darfur, as part of the civilian police component of the AU Peace Mission.

"The advance guard of this police contingent is meant to establish the police headquarters in Darfur during January. The AU police mission will be under the command of SAPS," the Cabinet statement said. - Sapa

Further reading: New York Times Jan 22 Analysis: Bush's Smiles Meet Some Frowns in Europe.


Blogger Black River Eagle said...

I am a U.S. citizen and I do not support the use of the ICC in The Hague for prosecution of war crimes and genocide in places like Darfur. Of course my reasons are probably different than those of the politicians and legal experts in Washington D.C. who oppose the ICC.

My problem with "The Hague" or at least the ICC in The Hague is that despite having excellent prosecutors and judges and facilities and a fat budget, they can't seem to bring justice to anyone. I mean, look at the ongoing trial of Milosovec and other murderers and genocide artists from the Balkan Wars of the 1990's.

The Milosovec trial is a pathetic joke and on top of that it is costing the taxpayers millions of Euros. The sentences which have been handed down to many of those found guilty of the most horrendous types of crimes are a Miscairrage of Justice, not Justice. The Tribunal for the Rwandan Genocide based in Tanzania has not faired much better.

Put some TEETH in the d--n thing and cut the showmanship in the politics about the court and perhaps more people in the U.S. might start listen' up and start supporting U.S. membership to the ICC.

Saturday, January 22, 2005  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Hello Bill, thank you for your interesting point of view. I don't know much about the ICC except that everyone, except the US and rogue states are supporting the ICC. You say that the ICC has excellent prosecutors and judges and facilities and a fat budget but that they can't seem to bring justice to anyone. The way I see it, is no matter how long the trials go on - even if they take many years - it all counts as giving a voice to the victims of genocide and war crimes whose story might have been untold or forgotten if the trials had not taken place or been "rushed". Milosovec is getting his punishment through the trial which is enabling the whole thing to be documented for the history books, the victims and surviving members of their families. The longer the trial goes on, the longer he can be legally held which helps weaken any support on the outside while discovering who were the accomplices and following up on getting evidence to bring them to book.

Saddam Hussein is currently eating American muffins under US guard, awaiting trial. Naturally, the trial will take years. It services as a good warning to other despotic dictators - and wannabe dictators - to see what can happen and gives the UN and international community clout. No doubt the genocidal regime in Khartoum are quaking in their boots when they see how Saddam Hussein and Milosevec are faring these days. It could so easily happen to them. Just going through the trial and being disgraced before the world - and the history books (these people are meglomaniacs) is punishment in itself and strips them of any power or wherewithal to mount revenge. The Nuremberg Trials are world famous and I believe helped survivors. The perpetrators of atrocities in Germany were hunted down for years (and still are I believe) and brought to trial one by one - I don't think there is a statute of limitation on genocide.

We do not have capital punishment in Europe. After sentences are imposed, the prisoners live a life of appeals, reviews etc that are probably just as costly as any ongoing trial. To my mind, the trials are the fair and correct way to go about attempting to account for every atrocity and leaving no stone unturned to get a full and proper account of what happened. These things cannot be rushed to give a fair hearing for both the accused and the victims and seek out further evidence and names of accomplices so they too can be brought to court.

I doubt if Milosovec will be set free to enjoy a normal life. It does not matter that such trials costs millions of Euros - it is the price we are prepared to pay to hold such people to account and serve as a warning to others that they can't get away with war crimes. It is the least we can do for the victims and their families.

From the little I know about the Rwandan genocide tribunal, it is still going on. The last I heard a few months ago were the French were brought in to account. Even if the tribunal lasts another ten years, it will be worth it - in my view.

My understanding of why the US is not supporting the ICC is that it does not wish US citizens to be subjected to the court. If they do not join, I believe it will make them look bad. Sorry.

Two million have died as a result of violence in the Sudan. They must not be forgotten and the perpetrators of crimes against humanity must be brought to court. I hope the US finds a way to support the global court.

Saturday, January 22, 2005  

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