SUDAN WATCH: September 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

UNAMID holds workshop with Sudanese security forces - Darfur refugees in Kalma prepare for violence

Hah! The rebels (read terrorists) won't like this at all. Serves them right for denigrating the AU in order to get the UN in and onside. It's backfired on them. Idiots. From the Sudan Tribune September 24, 2008 (ELFASHER) —
The African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) reported that on Tuesday it conducted a training workshop on security coordination for senior and medium level officers from the Sudanese government’s (GoS) Police, National Security and Military Intelligence forces.

The one-day workshop was conducted at the police headquarters in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur State, and sought to inform the officers on the mission’s mandate, the Status of Forces Agreement, the host government’s responsibilities and the workings of the UN’s security management system.

In his opening remarks to the participants of the workshop, UNAMID Principal Deputy Joint Special Representative Henry Anyidoho expressed satisfaction for the opportunity for UNAMID and GoS security experts to sit together to discuss operational security procedures that both sides deal with on a daily basis.

“This was our plan for long to share more information with our partners in the government. We strongly believe that sharing and understanding of UN security mechanisms and guidelines by our friends would help them secure the UN staff and property,” said Anyidoho.

The primary responsibility for the security and protection of UN staff members and property rests with Sudan, the host government, Anyidoho emphasized.

The chief of the Sudanese police in North Darfur, General Ahmad Atta Al Manan Osman, expressed his government’s appreciation for the UNAMID initiative and spoke about traffic accidents committed by UNAMID staff.

Osman called upon the mission to find a just means of compensation for those affected, suggesting that insurance companies contracted by UNAMID open offices in Darfur.

General Al Tayeb, head of the National Security force in North Darfur, elaborated on the significance of conducting workshops and seminars between UNAMID and the security apparatus.

Internally displaced persons’ representatives from Abu Shouk and El-Salam camps in North Darfur met with Anyidoho on Sunday to complain about insecurity for residents of the camps.

UNAMID learned the same day that three suspected Janjaweed militia members stole 40 goats at Fatta Burno IDP Camp in North Darfur. One Fatta Burno resident was shot in the leg and evacuated to Kutum Hospital by local residents. (ST Thursday 25 September 2008 05:00) 
Note the last few lines of the report. Security in Darfur, and Sudan as a whole, is definitely improving. There was a time, a few years ago, when I could barely keep up with chronicling the day by day, hour by hour, slew of horrific crime reports.

Who knows, there may come a day when Louis Moreno-Ocampo and Omar Hassan Al-Bashir become Nobel Peace Prize recipients. I am not joking. Those two could be capable of great things, if they thought laterally, together. Stranger things have happened at sea. The Sudanese have a great sense of history. Surely, President Al-Bashir wants to go down in history as a great guy. If only he could rid Khartoum of Al-Qaeda...

Meanwhile ...Darfur refugees in Kalma, full of armed rebels (read terrorists) prepare for violence. God help the children of Sudan ...

Darfur refugees in Kalma prepare for violence

Aid workers and UN peacekeepers are increasingly wary of Kalma and other refugee camps in Darfur, where wary and angry refugees are apparently preparing for violence. A month ago, Sudanese troops killed 31 people at the Kalma camp, half of whom were women and children, and leaders in the camp are expecting more violence. Los Angeles Times (free registration) (9/25) Hat tip UN Wire.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

ICC prosecutor to investigate Sudan's Darfur rebels crimes - What happened at Haskanita? (Part 1)

July 18, 2008 Sudan Tribune report - ICC prosecutor to investigate Darfur rebels crimes - excerpt:
July 17, 2008 (UNITED NATIONS) – The already branded as public enemy in Khartoum, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said his third case will be against Darfur rebels who commit war crimes.

Speaking from New York where he attended the ceremonies marking the court’s 10-year anniversary, Ocampo said Thursday he is investigating on violence against peacekeepers in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region, including a Sept. 29 attack on the Haskanita military base that left 10 African Union soldiers dead and 1 missing.

"I am focusing my efforts in the third case with the rebels attacking Haskanita," he said. "We have information about the names of two commanders who were allegedly responsible for this."

The prosecutor cautioned Sudanese rebels against carrying out attacks like the one he suspects them of orchestrating on the strategically important AU base, which is about 12 miles (19 kilometers) from the boundary between Darfur and the neighboring region of Kordofan.

"We have to prove the case," he added. "I like to use this meeting to call on the rebels to provide evidence and ...stop any crime."

The Darfur rebels have been trying to link up with new rebel groups in Kordofan, where there are large fields of Sudan’s proven oil reserves.

"The rebels cannot commit crimes. They have to control their people," Moreno-Ocampo said. "And they have to help the court ... to provide evidence against those who commit the attacks in Haskanita, and even arrest them. So I think it’s the time now for the case of the rebels."

Vehicles marked with the initials of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement took part in the attack in which 12 peacekeepers were killed.
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What happened at Haskanita? (Part 1)

What happened at Haskanita? (Part 1)

SUDAN, Haskanita: Picture taken 30 September [2007] shows a building at the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) military group site (MGS) at Haskanita that was hit by hostile fire during an attack the night before. The MGS came under sustained and heavy attack on the night of 29 September [2007] by unidentified armed militia who eventually overran the site destroying equipment and AU property and looting vehicles. Ten protection Force Personnel were killed in the attack, while another 8 were seriously injured and evacuated to El Fasher, the administrative capital North Darfur and the Sudanese capital Khartoum. As of the evening of 1 October [2007], 22 AMIS personnel were still missing following the attack which was condemned in the strongest terms by the international community. AMIS PHOTO / STUART PRICE. 
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Hask Att c.jpg

SUDAN, Haskanita: A burnt out armoured personnel carrier smoulders at the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) military group site (MGS) 30 September [2007]. The MGS came under sustained and heavy attack on the night of 29 September [2007] by unidentified armed militia who eventually overran the site destroying equipment and AU property and looting vehicles. Ten protection Force Personnel were killed in the attack, while another 8 were seriously injured and evacuated to El Fasher, the administrative capital North Darfur and the Sudanese capital Khartoum. As of the evening of 1 October [2007], 22 AMIS personnel were still missing following the attack which was condemned in the strongest terms by the international community. AMIS PHOTO / STUART PRICE.
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What happened at Haskanita? (Part 1)

SUDAN, Haskanita: A burnt out armoured personnel carrier smoulders at the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) military group site (MGS) 30 September [2007]. The MGS came under sustained and heavy attack on the night of 29 September [2007] by unidentified armed militia who eventually overran the site destroying equipment and AU property and looting vehicles. Ten protection Force Personnel were killed in the attack, while another 8 were seriously injured and evacuated to El Fasher, the administrative capital North Darfur and the Sudanese capital Khartoum. As of the evening of 1 October [2007], 22 AMIS personnel were still missing following the attack which was condemned in the strongest terms by the international community. AMIS PHOTO / STUART PRICE.
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What happened at Haskanita? (Part 1)

SUDAN, Haskanita: An African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) Protection Force soldier from Nigeria points to the blast point of a rocket propelled grenade on a destroyed armoured personel carrier at Haskanita military group site (MGS), 30 September [2007]. The MGS came under sustained and heavy attack on the night of 29 September [2007] by unidentified armed militia who eventually overran the site destroying equipment and AU property and looting vehicles. Ten protection Force Personnel were killed in the attack, while another 8 were seriously injured and evacuated to El Fasher, the administrative capital North Darfur and the Sudanese capital Khartoum. As of the evening of 1 October, 22 [2007] AMIS personnel were still missing following the attack which was condemned in the strongest terms by the international community. AMIS PHOTO / STUART PRICE.

What happened at Haskanita? (Part 1)

SUDAN, Haskanita: A destroyed dormatry still smoulders 30 September [2007] following an attack on the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) military group site (MGS) following an attack the night before. The MGS came under sustained and heavy attack on the night of 29 September [2007] by unidentified armed militia who eventually overran the site destroying equipment and AU property and looting vehicles. Ten protection Force Personnel were killed in the attack, while another 8 were seriously injured and evacuated to El Fasher, the administrative capital North Darfur and the Sudanese capital Khartoum. As of the evening of 1 October [2007], 22 AMIS personnel were still missing following the attack which was condemned in the strongest terms by the international community. AMIS PHOTO / STUART PRICE.

What happened at Haskanita? (Part 1)

SUDAN, Haskanita: An African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) Protection Force soldier surveys a destroyed buidling at Haskanita Military Group Site (MGS), 30 September [2007]. The site came under sustained and heavy attack on the night of 29 September [2007] by unidentified armed militia who eventually overran the site destroying equipment and AU property and looting vehicles. Ten protection Force Personnel were killed in the attack, while another 8 were seriously injured and evacuated to El Fasher, the administrative capital North Darfur and the Sudanese capital Khartoum. As of the evening of 1 October [2007], 22 AMIS personnel were still missing following the attack which was condemned in the strongest terms by the international community. AMIS PHOTO / STUART PRICE.
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Source: Note to self to find and insert link to website featuring above photographs and captions.

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Darfur/UNAMID loses another peacekeeper: Private Losedi Boitumelo Monaisa of South African Battalion

EL FASHER (DARFUR), Sudan, September 24, 2008/African Press Organization (APO) - Darfur/UNAMID loses another peacekeeper:

The body of Late Private Losedi Boitumelo Monaisa of South African Battalion was yesterday flown home after a solemn farewell ceremony organized in her honour by her colleagues of the African Union-United Nations hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).

“Late Pte Moaisa died under very distressing and sad circumstances…she did not loose her life in combat nor was she a victim of banditry or carjacking, but met her demise after being stung by a scorpion,” lamented UNAMID Principal Deputy Joint Special Representative (PDJSR) Mr. Henry Anyidoho.

Mr. Anyidoho conveyed on behalf of the Joint Special Representative, Mr. Rudophe Adada and the UNAMID leadership profound and heart-felt condolences to the family of Pte. Monaisa, and to the government, Defense Ministry and Armed Forces of the Republic of South Africa.

He lauded the continued support and contribution of South Africa in the quest for peace and security to Darfur and to end the sufferings of its people. He also applauded the bravely and gallantry of the South African military and police contingents and stressed that the sacrifices they have made and continue to make will be enshrined in the annals of the history of the African Union and United Nations to find a peaceful solution to the Darfur conflict.

In his tribute to Late Monaisa, UNAMID Force Commander, General Martin Luther Agwai, lamented the painful circumstances of Private Monaisa’s death which he said made it particularly painful. Gen. Agwai stated that within the brief period she spent in the mission, Pvte Monaisa discharged her duties with unqualified zeal, competence and professionalism. “We lack enough words to re-assure and console her waiting family and colleagues in South Africa,” Gen. Agwai said.

The FC emphasized that the best way we can mourn Pte Monaisa is to forge ahead and emulate her exemplary service. “There is no amount of grief or tears that can bring her back…she had dutifully completed her service here on earth, we look forward to meeting her one day,” Gen. Agwai said.

Late Pte. Monaisa aged 21, was stung by a scorpion on 19 September 2008. Despite the valiant efforts of the medical team to save her life, she succumbed to the venom of the scorpion leaving behind a six year old daughter.

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Re ICC indictment: UK to back immunity for Sudan's President Omar Al-Bashir in bid for peace (Update 1)

Good news. Recent 'diplomatic speak' by UK Minister for Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Lord Malloch-Brown, has been made more clear today by Chris Stephen's report (The Scotsman, September 24, 2008) entitled 'Britain to back immunity for Sudan president in bid for peace'. Excerpt from the report:
BRITAIN is backing efforts to provide Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir with immunity from an expected genocide indictment from the International Criminal Court.

Foreign Office officials confirmed to The Scotsman that London is backing a plan to give immunity to al-Bashir, accused by ICC prosecutors of masterminding massacres that have claimed 200,000 lives.

The deal, which will be discussed this week at the United Nations General Assembly, would involve Sudan promising to make significant progress with peace talks, supporting the deployment of UN peacekeepers in Darfur, and holding war crimes trials of its own for lesser figures. "We're not getting involved in negotiations", said one British official. "There has to be a very substantial change in Sudan's cooperation."

London is supported by Paris, whose UN ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert told news agencies that immunity was the prize that could be offered for Sudan agreeing to full inclusive dialogue.

Al-Bashir was accused of genocide in July by ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who says he was the mastermind behind a campaign of ethnic cleansing that has left an estimated 200,000 dead and two million refugees.

Since the charge was laid, there have been mounting calls for al-Bashir to be given immunity from China, Russia, the Arab League and, most recently, the African Union. But human rights groups are furious, and have launched a campaign of intensive lobbying at the United Nations seeking to get London and Paris to change their minds.

"We are expressing the strongest possible opposition to granting Omar al-Bashir a get-out-of-jail-free card," said Richard Dicker, international justice director of Human Rights Watch. "The Security Council made a commitment to bringing justice to the people of Darfur for horrific crimes, and to derail the judicial process would be a betrayal."

His organisation, and Amnesty International, are hoping to meet with David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, at the UN later this week and press their case, reminding him of the strong support Britain has previously given to the ICC.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has given strong support to the ICC in the past, in line with the Labour Party's public commitment to international justice. But Foreign Office officials have begun to despair at the lack of progress in Darfur and see the lifting of the indictment as offering them leverage. A mixed Africa Union and UN peacekeeping force is facing obstruction from Sudan as it tries to deploy, and peace talks between Khartoum and a splintering rebel alliance are stalled.

One possibility backed by London is that al-Bashir would end the obstruction and hand over two other ICC indictees, government minister Ahmad Harun and militia commander Ali Kushayb, who were charged last year.

The ICC was mandated by the UN Security Council to investigate Darfur in April 2005. But the Council has the right, under Article 16 of the ICC constitution, to suspend a prosecution if all members agree.

Supporters of the court argue that granting immunity to al-Bashir would undermine the value of the court. Former human rights chief of the UN, Louise Arbour, said giving such immunity would send a dangerous signal to would-be war criminals that justice is negotiable.
Note the report says that the deal, which will be discussed this week at the UN General Assembly, would involve Sudan promising (1) significant progress with peace talks (2) supporting the deployment of UN peacekeepers in Darfur (3) holding war crimes trials of its own for lesser figures.

The "lesser figures", one presumes, would be the two other ICC indictees, government minister Ahmad Harun and militia commander Ali Kushayb, who were charged last year?

The other thing is that although the Sudanese president is accused by the ICC of three crimes, namely (1) genocide (2) war crimes (3) crimes against humanity, the report mentions immunity against genocide only. What about the two other charges?

And hey Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and former human rights chief of the UN, Louise Arbour: you are playing into the terrorists' hands and doing the people of Sudan a disservice. Your time and energy would be better spent on lobbying for more equipment and helicopters for the peacekeeping force in Darfur and not letting up on expressing outrage over the attacks on, and slayings, peacekeepers (not to mention what happened at Haskanita).

The welfare and lives of peacekeepers, and of workers within organisations such as the Red Cross, are just as important as the welfare and lives of rebels and IDPs. Imagine the outcry if several Red Cross workers had been slain at Haskanita. Where's the outrage at the maiming and murder of peacekeepers? You misguided bunch of terrorist supporting warmongers make my blood boil, especially considering most of you probably cried out against intervention in Iraq, and the arrest of Saddam Hussein, despite the number of UN resolutions it thumbed its nose at.

saddam-hanging.jpg

Image and caption via Global Voices: "A cartoon by Latuff that sums up the mood of many" (Source: Sudan Watch archive Saturday December 30, 2006: SADDAM EXECUTED - How should we react? )
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Related reports

Sudan Watch September 18, 2008:
Hey Africa correspondent Alex Duval Smith: Is your report in the Observer true or what? Excerpt:
Sudan Tribune report September 14, 2008:
Britain & France will support freezing indictment of Sudan president

Sudan Tribune report September 18, 2008:
France says Sudan’s cooperation with ICC a condition to defer Bashir Indictment

Sudan Tribune report September 18, 2008:
British official denies plans to freeze ICC indictment of Sudan’s Bashir
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Sudan Watch September 19, 2008:
ICC prosecutor says decision on Sudanese President Al-Bashir arrest warrant unlikely in October. Excerpt:
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Luis Moreno-Ocampo downplayed speculations that judges will reach a decision on an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir.

“Normally, when the judges start to analyze [a case] they call us for hearings and they ask for more information. They have not yet done that” he said. “I don’t know how long it will take, the judges will decide, but I don’t think October would be possible” he said. The ICC Judges has been in a month long recess from July 18 to August 18.
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Sudan Watch September 19, 2008:
France says will block any UN resolution seeking to suspend ICC indictment of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir. Excerpt:
Last Sunday, September 14, 2008, the Guardian's sister newspaper, The Observer, published a report by its Africa correspondent, Alex Duval Smith, saying that the British and French governments will back efforts in the UN to stall the issuance of an arrest warrant for Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir.
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Sudan Watch September 20, 2008:
TRANSCRIPT OF BLIP.TV VIDEO: Lord Malloch-Brown in discussion at the Frontline Club

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Sudan Watch September 20, 2008:
Khartoum should not count on an Article 16 Deferral of the ICC (Alex de Waal). Excerpt:
In private conversation, there are few diplomats who believe that an ICC arrest warrant against President Bashir is a good idea, writes Alex de Waal in the concluding paragraph of his post at ssrc.blogs, September 18, 2008 entitled 'Khartoum Should Not Count On an Article 16 Deferral of the ICC'.
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Sudan Watch August 21, 2008:
Sudan's leader al-Bashir says ready to go to war. Excerpt:
Sudan's President Omar Al-Bashir has told a pan-Arab TV network he would go to war and ask Darfur peacekeepers to leave if the International Criminal Court formally indicts him and seeks his arrest.
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UPDATE
THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 25, 2008


From The Scotsman
Appeasing dictators is never the right thing to do
Published Date: September 25, 2008
YESTERDAY The Scotsman revealed that Britain was supporting a plan to offer Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, immunity from a genocide indictment issued by the International Criminal Court, which tries cases of human rights abuse. This is a dubious move on the part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and calls into question the independence of the ICC.
On 14 July, Bashir was formally accused by the ICC's chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, of ten counts of organising genocide in Darfur. The regime in Khartoum has engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing of African peasant farmers in Darfur, on ...
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Justice the price paid for peace? It wouldn't be the first time

From The Scotsman
Justice the price paid for peace? It wouldn't be the first time
Published Date: September 25, 2008
By Chris Stephen
GORDON Brown, the Prime Minister, and David Milliband, the Foreign Secretary, have flown into a human rights firestorm at the United Nations this week after offering Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, immunity for genocide in Darfur.

Rights groups fear, correctly, that such a get-out-of-jail-free card could sound the death knell for international justice because it will undermine its credibility.

Mr Brown's argument is simple: Sudan's president may have blood on his hands after orchestrating one of the most violent campaigns of ethnic cleansing of recent times, but he is also the man standing in the way of peace.

In July, Bashir was accused of genocide by the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo.

Now London wants to use this indictment as leverage, dropping the charge if Bashir will stop the fighting, let a UN force deploy and allow two million refugees to return home.

The logic is clear: horrible things have certainly happened, but that is in the past and a trial will not bring back the dead. On the other hand, a war crimes indictment could prolong the fighting, causing yet more suffering.

This argument, peace versus justice, is the Achilles' heel of the war crimes movement because it pits practical politics against idealism.

In the case of Darfur, the Foreign Office says there is no other option, with China blocking attempts to impose sanctions on Sudan and no end to the fighting in sight.

Britain is not alone in its thinking. China and Russia have already called for the same thing and so, this week, did France.

Unlike Mr Brown, who made the announcement via Foreign Office officials instructed to speak anonymously, Paris was big and bold. President Nikolas Sarkozy has gone public, telling the UN: "In the event the Sudan authorities do change, totally change, their policy, France would not be opposed to using, I believe it is, Article 16."

Article 16 refers to a clause in the ICC constitution that allows the UN Security Council to block a prosecution or an entire case on a 12-month renewable basis.

Perfect, says the Foreign Office, for forcing Bashir into a peace deal and ensuring he sticks to it in future years.

But human rights groups are horrified. They point out that, in the first place, it was at London's behest that Bashir is facing indictment. Until 2005, the ICC had no power to investigate crimes in Darfur. Then, in April of that year, Britain led the charge in the UN to confer upon it that power.

And the crimes Bashir is accused of orchestrating are horrific. Mr Moreno-Ocampo has identified whole villages where women and girls were lined up to be raped, with many later butchered. At least two tribes have been targeted for annihilation, hence the genocide finding that was first made three years ago by the United States.

And if Bashir gets immunity, rights groups fear other warlords will want similar treatment.

On Monday, Uganda's president, Yoweri Museveni, asked the UK's Africa minister, Mark Malloch Brown, at the UN to press London to extend the ICC immunity deal to Uganda. Mr Museveni wants the immunity not for himself but for his former enemies, the rebel Lords Resistance Army, who, like Bashir, have offered to end fighting if indictments against four of their leaders are dropped.

This is not the first time that the Westminster government has put its own interests before justice.

At the end of 2006, the then prime minister, Tony Blair, blocked investigations into bribes offered by British Aerospace to Saudi officials, worried that defence industry jobs would be lost.

Since then, Foreign Office officials have complained that Britain's reputation has been damaged.

They can hardly lecture foreigners on the primacy of the rule of law when London itself makes exceptions.

The same is true in the case of Bashir. For rights groups, an immunity deal for the Sudanese leader will hole the ICC below the waterline, by setting the precedent that war crimes indictments can be negotiated away.

At a stroke, London will have undermined the whole mechanism of international justice.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are now pressing the London government to look beyond the end of its nose.

They argue that if the UN sticks to its guns, it will give real teeth to the ICC, sending a tough message to other warlords about what they can expect if they launch their own ethnic cleansing campaigns.

Secondly, a tough stance weakens Bashir's grip on power, because his political opponents know that sanctions by Europe and the United States can be lifted if he is handed over.

It was this logic that saw Serbia this summer hand over former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic to the Hague Tribunal after he had been on the run for 13 years.

So far, London is unmoved. The government hopes to get outline agreement for the immunity deal at this week's UN General Assembly.

It is likely that a formal offer will then be delivered by Mr Malloch Brown to Khartoum early next month, with the Security Council meeting within weeks to cement the deal.

While Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have united to try to shame Britain into changing its mind, their best hope lies, ironically, with the US. The Bush administration had previously been a thorn in the side of the war crimes movement, opposed to the creation of the ICC.

But the horrors of Darfur have become a popular cause in the US among the Left and Right, with the result that the US remains the only permanent member of the Security Council yet to support an immunity deal.

Rights groups hope that with an election coming up, neither John McCain nor Barack Obama will want to offer immunity, guaranteeing an American veto that would kill the offer for Bashir before it can be issued.
Chris Stephen is the author of Judgment Day: The Trial of Slobodan Milosevic, published by Atlantic Books.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

ISLAMIC law has been officially adopted in Britain, with sharia courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases

Why has this shocking news not made the front pages? I'm stunned that I've only just recently found out about it. Are these courts operating in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland? And if not, why not? Why don't we Brits get to vote on such important issues?

Sharia courts have been operating in Britain for over a year it has emerged

Five sharia courts have been set up in London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester and Nuneaton, Warwickshire. The government has quietly sanctioned that their rulings are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court

Source: Telegraph News - Sharia courts operating in Britain September 14, 2008 (358 comments)
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Revealed: UK’s first official sharia courts

ISLAMIC law has been officially adopted in Britain, with sharia courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases.

The government has quietly sanctioned the powers for sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence.

Rulings issued by a network of five sharia courts are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court.

Source: The Sunday Times (by Abul Taher) - Revealed: UK’s first official sharia courts - September 14, 2008 (434 comments)
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Excerpt from a Sudanese blog post:

Sharia Courts Operational In Britain

I know this is old news, but still. When I first read about it, my initial reaction was anger at what I saw - and still see - as a travesty. I thought to myself “what the hell is wrong with you Brits?”
Seriously, what is wrong with you Brits? It doesn’t look to me like you’re doing enough.

Source: The Sudanese Thinker September 22, 2008

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

International Day of Peace Sep 21 - Gurkhas are just what is needed for a UN force: Gurkhas could be the heart of the world's first real police force

Note to self, in remembrance of this time last year and Sudan Watch post Qaeda’s Zawahri urges attacks on Darfur peacekeepers September 20, 2007.

Today, September 21, is International Day of Peace. This blog has taught me that there will never be world peace. Man is a predator, always has been always will be. Survival of the fittest. God is physics. Physics is God. We tilt at windmills as world war looms. Check out recent updates Sudan Watch's sister sites:

Russia Watch
Syria Watch
Tehran Watch
North Korea Watch
Uganda Watch
Congo Watch
Ethiopia Watch
Niger Watch

Best of luck to Soldier of Africa blogger Werner and to all military personnel. Not forgetting the Gurkhas!

Iraq war marine

Photo source: Werner's Soldier of Africa blog. Werner is a South African soldier, currently at SA Army Combat Training Centre, Northern Cape, South Africa, following active service in DR Congo and Darfur, Western Sudan.
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The Gurkhas are just what is needed for the base of a UN force

The Gurkhas could be the heart of the world's first real police force.

Gurkha

Photo: Gurkhas (Courtesy of Harry's Place 'Fearless friends' September 12, 2008')

Excerpt from Sudan Watch June 16, 2006:
The highly respected Gurkhas, regarded as among the finest soldiers in the world, are making the news in an excellent opinion piece at Osceola News Gazette June 15, 2006. "Gurkhas could be the heart of the world's first real police force", writes former diplomat Menandro M. de Mesa, in the following piece:

The Gurkhas are just what is needed for the base of a U.N. force: Gurkhas could be the heart of the world's first real police force
Note, Harry's Place tagged its 'Fearless friends' post re the Gurkhas with the keyword "Brownie do something". Heh. Quite right too. Hey Brownie Do Something! [Update: the keyword has now changed to "Do Something"]
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Hey Brownie do something!

Last week, I signed an e-petition at Number10.gov.uk, thanks to Harry's Place blog post re the Gurkhas Fearless friends (where I left a comment).

If any Brits are reading this, please sign the petition before the deadline of November 26, 2008.

Excerpt from the petition:
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to give all Ex Gurkha soldiers and their families who have served our country British citizenship on leaving the service.

Submitted by Ross Pritchard – Deadline to sign up by: 26 November 2008 – Signatures: 27,855

You must be a British citizen or resident to sign the petition.
The total number of signatures, to date, is: 31,851
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Joanna Lumley goes into battle for Gurkha veterans

On September 17, 2008, The Scotsman reported that Joanna Lumley told the hundreds of supporters outside the courts: "I am so happy to be able to lend my support to your cause." Me too!

The Gurkhas are just what is needed for the base of a U.N. force: Gurkhas could be the heart of the world's first real police force

Source: Photo and report by MARTYN McLAUGHLIN published in The Scotsman September 17, 2008. Excerpts:
SHE is an icon of the small screen whose distinctive voice has added a certain gravitas to a host of campaigns and charities.

But yesterday Joanna Lumley sailed into battle in support of a cause close to her heart – Gurkha veterans fighting for the right to settle in Britain.

The actress brought a touch of glamour to the ordinarily austere surroundings of the High Court in London.

To the skirl of bagpipes playing Cock O' The North, she walked through a guard of honour of Gurkhas in their traditional hats to the steps of the Royal Courts of Justice in London's Strand.

The Absolutely Fabulous star, whose late father, Major James Rutherford Lumley, served with the 6th Gurkha Rifles, knelt before two veteran VC holders in wheelchairs to offer her best wishes for a test case being brought by five Gurkhas and a widow. [edit]

"I want to see justice done," she told Lachhiman Gurung, 91, and Tul Bahadur Pun, 86, who served with her father during the Second World War in Burma.

In 1944, Mr Pun saved the lives of several of his fellow soldiers, including Lumley's father, as they faced Japanese machine-gunners in Burma.

Lumley, 62, said: "Ever since I was a small child, this man has been my hero. I hope we will see justice." [edit]

More than 2,000 Gurkhas are challenging a tribunal ruling on their immigration status that means those who retired before 1997, when their base moved from Hong Kong to Kent, cannot automatically claim citizenship in the UK.

Those who retired before that date, and had their cases decided by visa officials in Kathmandu and Hong Kong, must apply for permission to stay and may be refused and deported.

Other foreign nationals in the British Army have a right to settle in Britain after four years of service anywhere in the world.

Speaking through a megaphone outside the High Court, Lumley addressed the crowd with the traditional Gurkha cry "Ayo Ghurkali!" which means "Here come the Gurkhas!"

She added: "My father would be absolutely overwhelmed with shame and fury that we behaved this way to our most loyal and constant friends.

"We have discriminated against them dreadfully and it is a stain on our relationship."

The hearing was adjourned until today.
Best of luck to all. And a special hi to Soldier of Africa Werner (Hi Werner, if you are reading this: have you received an African Union medal for your recent service in Darfur and DR Congo? If so, pics please!)
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The more I learn about human beings the more I like my cat

Four or five years ago, I read a quote by Yoko Ono that went something like this: "the more I know about people the more I like my cat".

I know exactly what she means. After the last two years (the worst in my life) it has become my motto.

Ophelia

Photo: My darling cat Ophelia. I adopted her on 10 September 2001 when she was around one year old. She makes me laugh. I wonder if the Sudanese are cat lovers, like us Brits. Do their cats behave in the same way as ours? Must find out.
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Animal Kingdom 2004 by Samuel Ajok

This acrylic on canvas (Animal Kingdom 2004 by Samuel Ajok) is my favourite from a selection at www.brandeis.edu, donated to the Sudanese Education Fund and the Southern Sudan Cultural Documentation Center by The Metcalf/Mastoras Family in honour of their Sudanese friends in Boston.

m-waterhole.jpg

The artist explains that this idyllic vision of African wildlife gathered at a waterhole is a parable for the hoped-for coming of peace: all manner of persons, including former violent enemies, will gather together amiably, in perfect safety.
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Notable Quotes

Globe

You cannot expect change to happen overnight. The process of change is slow and gradual. It is a work in progress all the time. It happens through legislation, it happens through social transformation, attitude change, and mindset change. So it is indeed a work in progress all the time. You have to keep working on it, without worrying too much to see the outcome in your lifetime - Kaifi Azmi

Change can come in either of two important ways: start behaving positively or stop behaving negatively - Dr. Phill

Freedom cannot exist without discipline, self-discipline, and rights cannot exist without duties. Those who do not observe their duties do not deserve their rights.-Oriana Fallaci

Source: Image and quotes courtesy of FAYAZ SOOMRO, Editor, Indus Asia Online Journal: International Day Of Peace September 21, 2008

PS Today I inserted a new 'subscribe to' button at top of sidebar here. It's Atom. I hope it hasn't cut off regular visitors to this site. I can't get the new feed into my NetNewsWire news reader. Whenever I press the button in the sidebar, my laptop crashes. And my feed to Soldier of Africa and Scaryduck and POTP has broken. Please let me know if you can't get a feed to Sudan Watch. Thanks.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Khartoum should not count on an Article 16 Deferral of the ICC (Alex de Waal)

In private conversation, there are few diplomats who believe that an ICC arrest warrant against President Bashir is a good idea, writes Alex de Waal in the concluding paragraph of his post at ssrc.blogs, September 18, 2008 entitled 'Khartoum Should Not Count On an Article 16 Deferral of the ICC'. Excerpts:
Last week, the text of the ICC Prosecutor’s public application for an arrest warrant against President Bashir was released. It can be found here. The text is heavily redacted in places, where the prosecution does not want to make its sources public. As the Lubanga trial has shown, if the case ever comes to court, prosecution evidence will have to be shared with the defence.

There is a small chance that the judges will not accept the genocide charges at all. But the charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes will surely go ahead.

Next week, Vice President Ali Osman Taha leads a large Sudanese government delegation to the UN General Assembly. The strategy is undoubtedly to try to get a UNGA resolution condemning the ICC. Sudan has the support of the African Union (whose Peace and Security Council will also pass a resolution on the issue next week) and the League of Arab States.

A vote at the UN General Assembly carries symbolic weight. But it’s only the UN Security Council that has the power to defer a prosecution under Article 16 of the Rome Statute. It is important to recall the procedure here. To prevail, Sudan needs a Security Council member to introduce a resolution, which will need the votes of at least nine of the fifteen members, and which must not be vetoed by any one of the five veto-wielding members. Sudan has strong support from the African and Asian blocs in the Security Council. It probably has seven assured votes including China and Russia. South Africa is the most likely sponsor of a resolution, as an African state and a state party to the ICC, which opposes the indictment of Bashir.

Sudan’s challenge is to win at least two more votes and to ensure that none of the U.S., Britain or France uses its veto. All three of these governments have been engaged in discussions with the Sudan government over what would be required for them to support an Article 16 deferral.

To date, the Sudan government is far from meeting the conditions laid down. In fact, Khartoum’s actions in Kalma camp and its military offensives in North Darfur have set back the process.

President Bush is alone among world leaders in having labeled Darfur as “genocide.” He has now been joined by Luis Moreno Ocampo. It would be extraordinarily difficult for the U.S. government, with no concrete gains to demonstrate to the American public, to block an effort to indict the Sudanese president for the crime of genocide.

Without very major, verifiable and irreversible steps towards meeting American conditions, an American veto is near certain.

Both France and Britain have hinted that they might accept softer conditionalities than the Americans for supporting—or not vetoing—an Article 16 deferral. France has aligned itself with the Qatar initiative for a Darfur peace process. While the Sarkozy government seems to be refusing to make any formal link between the Qatar process and the ICC, other than the observation that a credible peace process is a good thing for Sudan and its standing, there is speculation that a deal may be cooking. France also has its specific concerns on Chad. The British government has dropped similar hints about a softer line—Foreign Office minister Lord Malloch-Brown said as much in a recent interview.

As with the Americans, Khartoum needs to make a lot of demonstrable progress before Britain or France decide not to veto an Article 16 deferral.

The fundamental problem between Khartoum and the three western capitals is a lack of trust. The P3 of Washington, London and Paris wants to see verifiable and irreversible progress, albeit in slightly different configurations. Powerful Sudanese leaders suspect that there is a regime change agenda lurking and that any concessions they give will be swallowed up and followed by more demands.

In private conversation, there are few diplomats who believe that an ICC arrest warrant against President Bashir is a good idea. But the mechanism for stopping it is very unlikely to work in the time available. The most probable scenario for the next few months is that an Article 16 resolution is introduced to the UN Security Council and vetoed by one or all of the U.S., Britain and France, and then the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber will issue the arrest warrant.
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Vagueness and ambiguity from the P3

Note comment by Michael Davies in response to Alex de Waal's post 'Khartoum should not count on an Article 16 Deferral of the ICC'. Excerpt:
Alex - I think you are right in all you say above. And time is now very definitely running out. Some observations on the current situation:

Vagueness and ambiguity from the P3

At this stage, the French and British are just not clear enough where they are setting the bar for an Article 16 deferral. The usually-clear Americans are wrong-footed by their opposition to the ICC in a way that confuses everyone else involved. That now has to change.
Going by recent posts here at Sudan Watch, I think that the French and British are so vague and ambigious it actually makes them appear slippery, forked tongued and cavalier. Imagine how their 'diplomatic speak' translates into Arabic. It's hard enough figuring out their English version. It took me ages to transcribe Lord Malloch-Brown's talk (ref Sudan Watch post 20 September 2008 TRANSCRIPT OF BLIP.TV VIDEO: Lord Malloch-Brown in discussion at the Frontline Club)

Read the rest of Michael's comment at ssrc.blogs - Making Sense of Darfur.

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TRANSCRIPT OF BLIP.TV VIDEO: Lord Malloch-Brown in discussion at the Frontline Club

Warm thanks to Graham Holliday (click here for website) at the Frontline Club for leaving a comment at Sudan Watch post "France says will block any UN resolution seeking to suspend ICC indictment of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir".

The comment contains a link to a video on blip.tv featuring Lord Malloch-Brown, UK Minister for Asia, Africa and the Middle East, in discussion with Richard Beeston, Foreign Editor of The Times of the Frontline Club in London.



Last night, I viewed the whole video and transcribed the part re Darfur, Sudan (towards end of video) copy here below.

To view the video at blip.tv, click into http://blip.tv/file/1272032/

Here is the transcript:

Richard Beeston: I'm aware that we are slightly running out of time but I had an email from a gentleman who couldn't make it tonight but wanted his question asked anyway, he is called Peter Mozinsky perhaps he is watching this on the Internet:

"I would like to ask Lord Malloch-Brown if he sincerely believes that it is a good idea for the UK to lobby against the ICC's, that's the International Criminal Court's, indictment of Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir"

Lord Malloch-Brown: Well I am very glad to get the question because then I can answer that I think it's a very bad idea. There was a rather inaccurate press story about this last weekend, which actually didn't get our position right at all on this. I mean, for those who are not familiar with the background, you know, the Security Council turned over to the ICC for further investigation, a sealed list and dossier of some 50 Sudanese names who a Security Council investigation had felt were involved in the human rights abuses in Darfur. That list, the names are not really known, it was seen by Kofi Annan as Secretary General, he didn't even show it to me, I'm now relieved he didn't, I was rather curious at the time.

But it's turned over, and you know there isn't a Sudanese official who doesn't fear that his name is on that list. And you know it began, the ICC, the International Criminal Court, having looked at this under instruction or request from the Security Council indicted two relatively low level people, the Sudanese government responded by promoting one of them to a Cabinet level job as Minister for Humanitarian Affairs. And you know international community deeply pissed off but not quite sure what to do about it because you know a little bit hostage to Sudan in terms of wanting to see UNAMID the peacekeeping force deployed, wanting to see political negotiations between the government.

ICC more and more aggravated by this by no action on the arrest of these two individuals. So the prosecutor just in the summer announced that he was now recommending to the judges of the court that they issue an indictment against President Bashir the head of the country, I mean the Head of State.

Now this has, you know, put the fox in the chicken coop, big time, because you know, it's, I mean it's obviously got the Sudanese extremely alarmed that, you know, a serving head of state might find that were he to travel to the UN for an international meeting he might kind of get arrested at JFK under an international arrest warrant or, you know, and in fact if you look at the Sudanese blogs and other information sources you see that they are even worried the peacekeepers might suddenly show up in Khartoum and arrest him were he to be indicted which is the next step of this process.

So it has created, you know, in Sudan a lot of fears that it might stop cooperation with the peacekeepers, it might stop progress towards elections and towards a political settlement of Darfur.

It has also, you know actually, frankly, united a lot of African moderates who for example were on our side on Zimbabwe, are not on our side on this ICC indictment issue and feel that this is a real intrusion of western institutions into Africa's affairs where you can start indicting African leaders while in office, who's next they think, and it's not that they somehow think that Bashir is not guilty of things but they could imagine circumstances where, you know, some smooth well spoken opposition leader in their own country fooled westerners into thinking that they were a human rights abuser, right or wrong, and suddenly there was an indictment against them.

I mean, we have the example at the moment of the Rwandans who have not got an ICC indictment against them but have European arrest warrants issued against various senior members of the current government who we happen to think are not guilty of the crimes for which these warrants have been arrested but whose ability to travel, and, you know, is now limited, so there's a huge head of steam building in Africa against this sort of as they see it, and also in the Arab League, against a kind of western justice run riot.

So you might argue, well given all that, then why argue in favour of stopping it. Well we're not because you know really for two sets of reasons. One we are extremely wary of doing anything to interfere with the independence of the ICC, we look at it as one of the most important international innovations of recent years, the idea that there is an international court system which holds the strong to account for what they do after they leave the position of absolute power which has allowed them to abuse their citizens and ending impunity of that kind is for us a major progressive goal of of policy.

But the second reason is more practical than that and I've said this to the Sudanese with whom I've tried to retain keep on an intense diplomatic conversation throughout all the difficulties we encounter there, which is: look, if you showed a willingness to really engage to deal with these other cases of these two people who have been indicted and are still enjoying senior government jobs, if you really now turned around and helped get UNAMID fully deployed and if you also engaged in a no holds barred effort with the rebel groups to do a peace agreement then you would face a completely different environment in the security council where, you know, we might say, well you've made so much progress, we might delay this security council thing, because all the security council can do it can't cancel indictments it can only postpone them on the grounds that, you know, at a particular point in time, they might put a spoke in the wheel in a way that stops the broader progress.

But what we are not going to do, and having said that to the Sudanese they said, well what would we have to do to kind of get you to think that way, I said I'm, we're not horse trading there's no bargaining here, you know, there are examples of leaders who are facing massive international isolation, I think probably from the Sudanese point of view the best analogy is Gaddafi and Libya who did a complete turn around in terms of what he did with the US, UK and the international community on his weapons programme and on a bunch of other things that allowed the whole relationship to change, if the Sudanese could envisage something as bold and as ambitious as that then people would look at this indictment in a different light but you know we cannot sell out the international court or the international justice system for sort of the equivalent of a mess of potage or porridge, I mean we can't do it just for some nice words about how, you know, they will ensure justice is done. There would have to be a fundamental change in how Sudan is addressing these internal issues of justice and politics and peacekeeping and we've not seen that.

Richard Beeston: Well, thank you very much Mark, I think every one will agree its you've been extremely candid with us and riveting tour de force and I'm afraid we've run out of time but thank you very much for coming to us. (applause) end of video

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Friday, September 19, 2008

France says will block any UN resolution seeking to suspend ICC indictment of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir

Last Sunday, September 14, 2008, the Guardian's sister newspaper, The Observer, published a report by its Africa correspondent, Alex Duval Smith, saying that the British and French governments will back efforts in the UN to stall the issuance of an arrest warrant for Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir.

According to the Sudan Tribune today, Friday September 19, 2008, a French official said that France will block any resolution introduced seeking to suspend the International Criminal Court (ICC) indictment of Sudan's president.

Jean-Maurice Ripert

Photo: French Ambassador to the United Nations, Jean-Maurice Ripert (AP/ST)

Source: Friday September 19, 2008 Sudan Tribune report entitled France will veto any resolution deferring Sudan president indictment: Official
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UK denies plans to block ICC indictment of Sudan’s Bashir

According to a report in today's Sudan Tribune, the United Kingdom has no plans of supporting a suspension of the ICC indictment against Al-Bashir, a senior British official said yesterday, Thursday, September 18, 2008.

Lord Malloch-Brown

Photo: Lord Malloch-Brown UK Foreign Office Minister for Africa (AFP/ST)

Source: Sudan Tribune report Friday September 19, 2008 entitled British official denies plans to freeze ICC indictment of Sudan’s Bashir
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See related reports at Sudan Watch report Thursday September 18, 2008 entitled Hey Africa correspondent Alex Duval Smith: Is your report in the Guardian's Observer true or what?

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ICC prosecutor says decision on Sudanese President Al-Bashir arrest warrant unlikely in October

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Luis Moreno-Ocampo downplayed speculations that judges will reach a decision on an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir.

“Normally, when the judges start to analyze [a case] they call us for hearings and they ask for more information. They have not yet done that” he said.

“I don’t know how long it will take, the judges will decide, but I don’t think October would be possible” he said.

The ICC Judges has been in a month long recess from July 18 to August 18.

The ICC prosecutor also told Reuters that his office is looking into a raid by Sudanese by soldiers and security officers on Kalma IDP camp in South Darfur that took place in late August killing at least 30 people and injuring many more.

Ocampo said he asked the Sudan and the Arab League for an update on investigations launched into the incident by local authorities. He said that his office is trying to determine whether it was an isolated incident or the start of a new wave of violence against civilians.

“The Kalma camp attack had to be highlighted because it’s a case in which allegations are that al-Bashir forces killed civilians directly in the camp” Ocampo told Associated Press in a separate interview today.

He revealed that his investigation into rebel attack on peacekeepers is almost complete and challenged the Darfur rebels to cooperate.

“It will be a challenge for the rebel forces to comply” the prosecutor said.

“Some of them say ‘we are ready to go to court if the court calls us’. OK the time will come, very soon." he added.

ocampo10.jpg

Photo: ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo speaks during a meeting with Colombian judiciary on August 27, 2008 (AFP/ST)

Source: Sudan Tribune report September 13, 2008 entitled 'Bashir arrest warrant unlikely in October'

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hey Africa correspondent Alex Duval Smith: Is your report in the Observer true or what?

Note to self to look into three reports by the Sudan Tribune, copied here below. Right now it is 22:54, I am overtired and cannot find an email address for Alex Duval Smith, Africa correspondent for The Observer, to query his report (Observer, September 14, 2008 'Britain blocks prosecution of Sudan's ruler') publicised here at Sudan Watch under the heading 'UK works with France to block ICC's prosecution of Sudan's President Al-Bashir'. I wanted the report to be true but was mindful to use the word "reportedly" and not quote the words "under which Bashir could be let off the hook". [Afterthought: I say this because I think he should not even be "on the hook"]

Calling Alex Duval Smith: which bits of your report are innaccurate? Calling Sudan Tribune: please credit source of your reports, especially the one entitled 'British official denies plans to freeze ICC indictment of Sudan’s Bashir' (copied here below). Calling Lord Malloch-Brown: which bits of Alex Duval Smith's report are innacurate?

PS Check out the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Flickr photostream and Lord Malloch-Brown in Darfur and Khartoum, Sudan
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Copy of Sudan Tribune report
Thursday 18 September 2008 15:35

British official denies plans to freeze ICC indictment of Sudan’s Bashir:

September 18, 2008 (WASHINGTON) — The United Kingdom has no plans of supporting a suspension of the International Criminal Court (ICC) indictment against Al-Bashir, a senior British official said today.

Last week the Guardian newspaper published a report saying that the British and French governments will back efforts in the UN to stall the issuance of an arrest warrant for Al-Bashir.

The newspaper said that officials from both capitals informed human rights activists that they have taken this stance to protect the peace process in Darfur and Southern Sudan.

“There was a rather inaccurate press story about this last weekend” Lord Malloch Brown UK Foreign Office Minister for Africa said yesterday during forum at the Frontline Club in London.

“I think it is a very bad idea [suspension]…We are extremely wary of doing anything to interfere with the independence of the ICC. We look at it as one of the most important international innovation of recent years” Brown said.

The British official said he told Sudan that “there is no bargaining” before adding that London “cannot sellout the International Court or the justice system”.

Brown said it is up to Sudan to convince the UN Security Council (UNSC) that is undertaking a “fundamental change...in addressing the internal issues of justice, politics, peacekeeping, but we have not seen that”.

“If you showed a willingness to really engage with the other two people who had been indicted who are still enjoying senior government jobs. If you really now turned around helped get UNAMID fully deployed and if you also engage in a no-hole barred effort with the rebel groups to do a peace agreement then you would face a completely different environment in the UN Security Council” he added.

The British minister said that on the issues of the two Sudanese suspects indicted by the ICC previously, the UNSC has been held “hostage” to Sudan wanting to see UNAMID force deployed and political negotiations between the government and rebels.

However he acknowledged that Al-Bashir’s indictment does not have the support of African leaders who he said feel that the ICC is “is real intrusion of Western institution into Africa’s affairs where you can start indicting African leaders while in office.”.

“They [African leaders] say who is next? It is not that they think Bashir is not guilty of things. But they could imagine circumstances that some smooth well spoken opposition leader fooling Westerners into thinking that they were human right abusers right or wrong and then suddenly there was an indictment against them”.

In mid-July the ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced that he is seeking an arrest warrant for Al-Bashir.

The ICC’s prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo filed 10 charges: three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder. Judges are expected to take months to study the evidence before deciding whether to order Al-Bashir’s arrest.

Sudan and a number of regional organizations including the African Union (AU), Arab League, Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) condemned Ocampo’s request and called on the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution deferring Al-Bashir’s indictment.

Article 16 of the Rome Statute allows the UNSC to suspend the ICC prosecutions in any case for a period of 12 months that can be renewed indefinitely.

Sudan has not ratified the Rome Statute, but the UNSC triggered the provisions under the Statute that enables it to refer situations in non-State parties to the world court if it deems that it is a threat to international peace and security. (ST)
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Copy of Sudan Tribune report
Sunday 14 September 2008 06:34.

Britain & France will support freezing indictment of Sudan president

September 13, 2008 (KHARTOUM) – The British and French government will back efforts in the UN to stall the issuance of an arrest warrant for Sudan president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir, the Guardian reported today.

The newspaper said that officials from both capitals informed human rights activists that they have taken this stance to protect the peace process in Darfur and Southern Sudan.

The human right advocates said that Britain and France will join the Arab League, African Union, China, and Russia in backing a resolution by the UN General Assembly this month requesting a deferral of the charges against Al-Bashir.

Both UK & France are members of the Hague based court and have been the main advocates of referring the Darfur case to the ICC.

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced in mid-July that he requested an arrest warrant for Al-Bashir.

Ocampo filed 10 charges: three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder and accused Al-Bashir of masterminding a campaign to get rid of the African tribes in Darfur; Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa.

Following that the AU, Arab League, Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) called for invoking Article 16 which allows the UN Security Council (UNSC) to suspend the ICC prosecutions in any case for a period of 12 months that can be renewed indefinitely.

Libya and South Africa sought to force a suspension in the UNAMID extension resolution last July but failed to get the required number of votes and instead accepted a watered down paragraph taking note of the AU concern on the ICC move to seek an arrest warrant for Al-Bashir.

Foreign Office Minister for Africa Mark Malloch speaking to the Guardian defended his government’s position.

“’It is precisely because we respect the ICC that we do not want to bargain away [its authority]. This is not about handing a defeat to the court in its early life. But Khartoum has interpreted the indictment against Bashir as a measure that pits Sudan against the Western world” Malloch said.

“A great deal is at stake; not just Darfur but the peace process in southern Sudan. We have to keep hold of the strategic intentions of the ICC, which we share - to end impunity and increase security in Darfur” he added.

But Steve Crawshaw of Human Rights Watch (HRW) rejected Malloch’s arguments.

“Justice is not a tradeable option. We have seen again and again that Sudan makes empty promises. To think that Sudan is likely to act in good faith is either naive or cynical” he said.

An ICC official speaking to the Guardian said that they would meet UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband and his French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner, to outline the ICC’s position on September 23rd.

It was not clear however if Paris or London intend to table down a formal resolution in the UNSC calling for a suspension or if they would just simply not use their veto power to block it.

Moreover the US position on the matter remains unclear. The Los Angeles Times said that Washington offered Khartoum not to stand in the way of a suspension in return for concession in terms of Darfur peace process and deployment of peacekeepers.

In July the US abstained from a resolution extending the mandate of the UN-African Union (AU) hybrid force in Darfur (UNAMID) because of a paragraph incorporated that spoke about the possibility of a suspension.

In explaining the abstention US Representative to the UN Alejandro Wolff said his government strongly supports UNAMID but that the “language added to the resolution would send the wrong signal to the Sudanese president Omar Hassan Al-Bashir and undermine efforts to bring him and others to justice”.

Wolff said that the paragraph which they objected to comes at a “very important time when we are trying to eliminate the climate of impunity to deal with justice and address crimes in Darfur by suggesting there is a way out”.

“There is no compromise on the issue of justice, the climate of impunity has gone on for too long and the United States felt it was time to stand up on this point of moral clarity that this permanent member of the UNSC will not compromise on the issue of justice” he stressed.

“The issue before us is to make clear to those who are guilty of criminal activity and complicit in the horrors that befallen on the people of Darfur that there can be no escape…anything that signals a way out or any easy way to circumvent that we believe need to be opposed” the US diplomat said.

He also said that the US “disagrees” with the AU request to block the ICC’s prosecutor request of an arrest warrant against Sudan president.

The issue of invoking Article 16 of Rome Statute comes at a very sensitive time for the Bush Administration in an elections year. It may be politically damaging for the Republican Party to allow such a resolution to pass in the UNSC.

Darfur advocacy groups including ‘Save Darfur’ coalition in the US have already started campaigning against any suspension.

Sudan has not ratified the Rome Statute, but the UNSC triggered the provisions under the Statute that enables it to refer situations in non-State parties to the world court if it deems that it is a threat to international peace and security. (ST)
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Copy of Sudan Tribune report
Thursday 18 September 2008 05:30

France says Sudan’s cooperation with ICC a condition to defer Bashir Indictment

September 17, 2008 (NEW YORK) – The French government today called on Sudan to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) for it to consider suspending the indictment of Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir.

In mid-July the ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced that he is seeking an arrest warrant for Al-Bashir.

The ICC’s prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo filed 10 charges: three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder. Judges are expected to take months to study the evidence before deciding whether to order Al-Bashir’s arrest.

Sudan and a number of regional organizations including the African Union (AU), Arab League, Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) condemned Ocampo’s request and called on the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution deferring Al-Bashir’s indictment.

The French Foreign ministry deputy spokesman Frederic Desagneaux said in statements reported by Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) today that Sudan must cooperate with The Hague based court on extraditing two officials for which arrest warrants were issued by the ICC.

“Concerning Sudan, we call on the Sudanese authorities to commit, without delay, to the necessary cooperation with the ICC and the international community, starting with the application of arrest warrants already handed down by the Court for Ahmed Haroun and Ali Kushayb” Desagneaux said.

Later the French Ambassador to the UN Jean-Maurice Ripert appeared to be taking a softer stance on the issue.

“We had extensive meetings with representatives of the African Union (AU) and I think we are passing the same kind of messages [to Sudan] which stop the killings, stop the military action in Darfur…Do what you can do to alleviate the human suffering and improve the humanitarian access to Darfur...increase and improve the capacity of the authorities to participate in a political dialogue with all political forces….improve your relationship with Chad” Ripert said.

The French envoy stressed that Sudan “has to cooperate with the ICC”.

“I said it repeatedly here. Whatever they do they have to cooperate officially with the ICC. If they want to trial their own citizens in their own countries this is allowed by the [Rome] treaty. But they have to do that in agreement with the ICC. It is never too late to cooperate” he said.

“There are two indicted; Mr. Haroun and Mr. Kushayb. They can cooperate with the ICC on how to try those two people if they want to cooperate. We will see then what happens” the French official added.

“For the moment there is no initiative. If the issue is raised we’ll see. We will see the circumstances” before saying that if Sudan meets these conditions along with facilitating deployment of UNAMID they are willing to support the suspension.

The ICC Statute prevents investigation into crimes that were looked into by local judiciary under the concept of “complementarity”.

The judges of the ICC issued arrest warrants last year for Ahmed Haroun, state minister for humanitarian affairs, and militia commander Ali Mohamed Ali Abdel-Rahman, also know as Ali Kushayb in connection with Darfur war crimes.

Sudan must prosecute Haroun and Kushayb for the same accusations brought against them by the ICC in order for the latter to lose jurisdiction over their cases. Moreover Sudan must then challenge the ICC jurisdiction with the judges.

Last year the Sudanese prosecutor general Salah Abu-Zeid announced that Haroun would be probed on events relating to Darfur war crimes.

But a few days later after Abu-Zeid’s announcement the Sudanese president blocked the investigation and told the daily Al-Sudani newspaper in March 2007 that Haroun “will not resign and will not be dismissed”.

Al-Bashir also said in the interview that Haroun is cleared from any wrongdoings and that he was performing his duties in protecting the lives of citizens and their properties against rebel attacks.

“We don’t know how far up [chain of command] Ocampo’s intends to go to talk about Haroun’s resignation” he added.

Khartoum had long claimed that Kushayb was in custody since November 2006 for investigations into allegations of violations he committed during the peak of the Darfur conflict in 2004.

Sudan’s former Justice Minister Mohamed Ali al-Mardi told a news conference in Khartoum in February 2007 that “"Ali Kushayb, along with two other individuals, was sent for trial. He was detained as a suspect, questioned, his statements were evaluated and witness statements recorded, and then the decision was taken to refer him to court".

But in March 2007 Kushayb’s trial was delayed when the defendants filed an appeal with the Justice ministry after which Abu-Zeid told reporters that Kushayb’s appeal was denied that there is “sufficient evidence to proceed with the case”.

Shortly afterwards the Sudanese justice ministry ordered a ban on publishing reports or details relating to criminal cases on Darfur conflict and many observers at the time voiced skepticism over Khartoum’s seriousness to try perpetrators of crimes in the war ravaged region.

In early October Sudan’s former foreign minister Lam Akol told the pro-government daily Al-Rayaam from New York that Kushayb was freed “due to lack of incriminating evidence against him”.

However Al-Mardi issued a quick denial to the Al-Rayaam report describing it as “false” without directly commenting on Akol’s statements.

The former Justice Minister was asked again by Al-Rayaam last November on the whereabouts of Kushayb and he reiterated that the militia leader was “never released” before saying that he refrained from commenting on the issue “because it is under investigation”.

Then in April the spokesman for the Sudanese embassy in London, Khalid Al-Mubarak was quoted by Voice of America (VOA) as saying that Haroun and Kushayb were not prosecuted “because there is no evidence against them”.

In June Amin Hassan Omar, a leading figure in the National Congress Party (NCP) and a state minister also confirmed Kushayb’s release.

Last month the Sudanese justice minister Abdel-Basit Sabdarat announced that he appointed a special prosecutor to look into rights abuses committed in war ravaged region of Darfur since 2003.

Sabdarat named Nimr Ibrahim Mohamed as the Darfur prosecutor with 3 assistants; Kamal Mahjoub Ahmed, Al-Hadi Mahjoub Makkawi and Mamoun Mekki Hamid.

Nimr said he is reviewing Kushayb’s file to determine if the case warrants sending it back to court.

But it is unlikely that Haroun would stand trial in court. Sudanese officials also accused France of want to force them to deal with the ICC with regards to Haroun and Kushayb in a sign of recognition to the court.

Khartoum further said it will not accept a tradeoff that suspends Al-Bashir’s indictment in return for handing over the two suspects.

Sudan has not ratified the Rome Statute, but the UNSC triggered the provisions under the Statute that enables it to refer situations in non-State parties to the world court if it deems that it is a threat to international peace and security. (ST)
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Further reading

Sudan Tribune Wednesday September 17, 2008 report entitled: Sudan Tribune report on ICC warrant ‘false’: Official

Note: The 'redacted' application is available at http://www.icc-cpi.int/library/cases/ICC-02-05-157-AnxA-ENG.pdf

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Solar in Africa or falling back in love with oil? - Sharia courts operating in Britain

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have supported plans to build a 45 billion Euro ($64 billion) "super grid" that would connect renewable energy resources across Europe and Africa.

Read more in a report by Ben Block at World Changing, September 12, 2008 - African Renewable Energy Gains Attention. Excerpt:
The potential for renewable energy development in Africa is experiencing an increase in attention lately as investors and world leaders seek a new clean energy frontier.

The continent could become a gold mine for renewable energy due to abundant solar and wind resources. But roadblocks to clean energy worldwide are amplified throughout the troubled regions of Africa - financial resources are thin and infrastructure is often unreliable.

Solar in Africa.jpg

A researcher from the European Commission's Institute for Energy reported earlier this year that 0.3 percent of the sunlight that shines on the Sahara and Middle East deserts could supply all of Europe's energy needs. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have supported plans to build a 45 billion Euro ($64 billion) "super grid" that would connect renewable energy resources across Europe and Africa.

Along the Great Rift Valley - a 6,000 kilometer terrain stretching from Syria to Mozambique - a huge amount of untapped geothermal energy may soon be developed. In June, Kenya announced that it would install some 1,700 megawatts of geothermal capacity within the next 10 years - 150 percent of the country's total electricity generating capacity. Djibouti plans to supply nearly all of its electricity needs through geothermal energy, with the help of Reykjavik Energy Invest and the World Bank.
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FALLING BACK IN LOVE WITH OIL?

Here is an excerpt from today's Snowmail, just in - courtesy of UK Channel 4 News' Jon Snow - Wednesday 17 September 2008:
FALLING BACK IN LOVE WITH OIL?
One last thought: OIL. Have you noticed how it's crashed from $140 a barrel to around $90 in just three months? All those weeks ago, at the beginning of the hike in prices, I asked one of the foremost oilmen, Sir Mark Moody Stewart, formerly head of Shell, now on the board of the Saudi state oil company Aramco, what it was all about.

"Not the oil supply" he said. "There's plenty of it... not India or China either
they amount to 2 per cent of the market
this is about sentiment and speculation."

So there you have it. Having grown tired of the money markets and the rest, the hedge funds and private equity characters and the rest had bundled out of Wall Street into commodities, particularly oil. Now they are back with their first love, barracuda attacks on rivals in the markets, and - hey presto! - having left the oil speculation game, the price of oil falls.

Gotta run see you at seven, Best, Jon
BUSINESS
At the time of sending the FTSE-100 index was: 4956.70
The US Dollar to Sterling was: 1.79535
The Euro to Sterling was: 1.26780

Source: CHANNEL 4 NEWS SERVICES
RSS feeds and mobile phone bulletins
Online video reports

PS If you want to reply to Snowmail please email news@channel4.com and put Snowmail in the subject header.

PPS Sharia courts have been operating in Britain for over a year it has emerged.
Source: Telegraph News - Sharia courts operating in Britain September 14, 2008

[Cross posted to sister site Niger Watch]
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UPDATE: MARKET DATA 23:32 UK GMT, Wednesday, 17 September 2008

FTSE 100 4912.40 down -113.20 -2.25%
Dow Jones 10609.66 down -449.36 -4.06%
Nasdaq 2098.85 down -109.05 -4.94%

UPDATE: MARKET DATA 20:54 UK GMT, Thursday, 18 September 2008

FTSE 100 4880.00 down -32.40 -0.66%
Dow Jones 11023.85 up 414.19 3.90%
Nasdaq 2187.17 up 88.32 4.21%

Source: BBC - Market Data

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UK PM Gordon Brown's offer of military aid to Nigeria provokes collapse of ceasefire amid angry claims that UK has 'declared war' on rebel army

Note the following excerpt from a report at sister site Niger Watch, posted on August 25, 2008:
From The Independent
Friday, 11 July 2008
By Daniel Howden, Kim Sengupta, Colin Brown and Claire Soares

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown offers military aid to oil rich Nigeria

Brown blunders in pledge to secure Nigeria oil

Militant groups in the Niger Delta

Photo: Militant groups in the Niger Delta have targeted multinational oil firms (AP/independent.co.uk)

PM's offer of military aid to Nigeria provokes collapse of ceasefire amid angry claims that UK has 'declared war' on rebel army

Militant groups in the Niger Delta

Photo: A Nigerian separatist rebel in the Niger Delta (independent.co.uk)
The Independent has titled its URL to the report as "Brown's African Misadventure". I find it interesting that nothing has been made of the report elsewhere. Why not, I wonder?

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Map of attacks and LRA base - DR Congo's army has sent 200 troops to Dungu, DRC

Earlier this month, the Democratic Republic of Congo's army and the UN began a military operation to try to contain the activities of Ugandan LRA terrorist group leader Joseph Kony.

Map of LRA bases & attacks

Source: BBC News 'Rebel leader targeted in DR Congo' report dated Monday, 8 September 2008. Excerpts:
The campaign follows failed attempts to negotiate an end to the rebellion by his Lord's Resistance Army.

Congo's army has sent 200 troops to the northern town of Dungu, where hundreds have sought refuge from the LRA.

The LRA fought a 20-year war against the government in northern Uganda. Some two million people were displaced.
Note, the report says Mr Kony is thought to have been rebuilding his forces.

Also note, as stated here many times before, the USA treats the LRA as a terrorist organisation and, in my view, rightly so.

One wonders about the financing and arming of the LRA over the past 20 years. How come, in this day age, the sources of funding, armaments and munitions for African rebel groups manage to remain such a secret over the past twenty years? I wish professional journalists would tell us because it would help make sense of what is going on in and around Africa and why.

[Cross posted to sister sites Uganda Watch and Congo Watch and Niger Watch]

Sunday, September 14, 2008

UK works with France to block ICC's prosecution of Sudan's President Al-Bashir

The good news is that further to Sudan Watch post July 13, 2008 'ICC should not indict Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir', Britain and France are working together to block the ICC's prosecution.

But human rights groups continue to criticise strategy on Darfur.

Reportedly, Britain's Foreign Office Minister for Africa Mark Malloch-Brown and his French counterpart, Bruno Joubert both travelled to Khartoum recently to suggest a deal requiring Khartoum handing over Harun and Kushayb, committing to the peace process in Darfur and southern Sudan, and allowing UNAMID to fully deploy.

Also, the ICC is scheduled to meet Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband and his French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner, to outline the ICC's position on September 23, 2008.

Source: Report from The Observer by Alex Duval Smith, Africa correspondent, dated Sunday September 14, 2008. Here is a copy:
Britain blocks prosecution of Sudan's ruler

Britain is playing a key role in efforts to block the prosecution of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for the carnage in Darfur.

Human rights activists yesterday accused the government of a 'shocking abdication' of its commitment to justice after it emerged that Britain is backing moves by Libya, the Arab League and several African countries to halt the indictment of Bashir by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

But the government says it has adopted the controversial position to save lives in the western Sudan province where the United Nations estimates that 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million others have been driven from their homes since 2003.

In July the ICC's chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, applied for an international arrest warrant for Bashir - the first such move ever against a serving head of state. The prosecutor wants to try Bashir for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. He claims to have evidence that the Sudanese state and its agents have killed at least 135,000 people in Darfur. The move was criticised by some regional experts, who argued that it would bring greater suffering and threaten hopes of a peace deal.

Britain was a leading player in the establishment in 2002 of the ICC - a unique permanent court with wide-ranging powers and a UN mandate to end impunity at high levels and punish war crimes, including genocide.

In a last-ditch attempt to prevent ICC judges from issuing an arrest warrant for Bashir in the next few weeks, Bashir's supporters - the Arab League, the African Union, China and Russia - will use the UN General Assembly, beginning on 23 September, to ask the UN Security Council to block the prosecution. They are supported by two countries which were instrumental in instigating the ICC investigation - permanent Security Council members Britain and France.

Britain and France say privately that the lines of communication with Khartoum are nearing total breakdown. The Sudanese authorities are blocking the work of the 11,000-strong Unamid peacekeeping force and have not handed over two other ICC suspects - government minister Ahmad Harun and militia chief Ali Kushayb - for whom arrest warrants were issued last year.

Foreign Office Minister for Africa Mark Malloch Brown and his French counterpart, Bruno Joubert, are understood to have both travelled to Khartoum recently to suggest a deal under which Bashir could be let off the hook. It would require Khartoum handing over Harun and Kushayb, committing to the peace process in Darfur and southern Sudan, and allowing Unamid to fully deploy.

But Steve Crawshaw of Human Rights Watch said bargaining with justice will permanently undermine the ICC's credibility and independence. 'The idea that you can do deals on justice is both short-sighted and a shocking moral abdication on Britain's part. It can only be damaging to the court.

'Justice is not a tradeable option. We have seen again and again that Sudan makes empty promises. To think that Sudan is likely to act in good faith is either naive or cynical,' said Crawshaw.

The ICC prosecutor is confident of his case. His special adviser, Beatrice Le Frapper, said: 'We share the objective of stopping the crimes in Darfur. But to do so you need justice and security. Unamid will not be able to carry out their tasks if they have to liaise with criminals who are ordering crimes against civilians. The indictment of Bashir contributes towards his becoming a lame-duck President.' She said the ICC would meet Foreign Secretary David Miliband and his French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner, to outline the ICC's position on 23 September.

But Malloch Brown defended Britain's role: 'It is precisely because we respect the ICC that we do not want to bargain away (its authority). This is not about handing a defeat to the court in its early life. But Khartoum has interpreted the indictment against Bashir as a measure that pits Sudan against the Western world. A great deal is at stake; not just Darfur but the peace process in southern Sudan. We have to keep hold of the strategic intentions of the ICC, which we share - to end impunity and increase security in Darfur.'
Note recent news in my blog Russia Watch Britain's Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, was subjected to a tirade of four-letter abuse when he spoke to his Russian counterpart over the country's invasion of Georgia.

Related reports:

August 21, 2008 Sudan's leader al-Bashir says ready to go to war

August 23, 2008 Sudan's warning on peacekeepers is a "political message"- Darfur peacekeepers' chief: Sudan cooperating - Sudan helpful in Darfur mission, Adada says

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