SUDAN WATCH: No sealed envelope was delivered to UN chief re Bashir case - ICC does not have to inform the UN chief of a decision it takes

Friday, February 13, 2009

No sealed envelope was delivered to UN chief re Bashir case - ICC does not have to inform the UN chief of a decision it takes

In yesterday's noon briefing to the presss, Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, is quoted as saying that:
"The ICC does not have to inform the Secretary-General of a decision it takes. As you know, the Secretary-General is not informed whenever a decision is taken to indict other people. Will the Secretary-General necessarily get it, when the Secretary-General gets it, if he gets it… This is a decision for the Court, to send it as a courtesy to the Secretary-General or not. But if not, they don’t have to do it. They never do it. So why would they do it this time around? That’s the best answer I can give you."
Source: www.isria 13 February 2009 - UN: Daily Press Briefing, 12 February 2009. The following is a near-verbatim transcript of [12 February 2009] noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General. Excerpts:
Darfur

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, Ameerah Haq, has called for immediate access to over 100,000 civilians in Muhajariya and two other areas of South Darfur.

International humanitarian agencies have attempted to reach the area four times since 7 February, but are unable to obtain clearance for humanitarian flights.

Ms. Haq said aid agencies need urgent access to the people who are in critical need of assistance. Unless access is immediately granted, the situation for hundreds of thousands of civilians could deteriorate rapidly, she warned.

The UN and NGOs in Nyala stand ready to provide vital food, water, shelter and medical care to vulnerable civilians who were displaced from Muhajariya into the surrounding areas following recent hostilities in the area.

International Criminal Court Clarification

For those of you who have not seen it, I want to draw your attention to a press release by the International Criminal Court (ICC) which says that no arrest warrant has been issued by the ICC against President Omer al-Bashir of Sudan.

The ICC press release also says that no decision has yet been taken by the judges of Pre-Trial Chamber I concerning the Prosecutor’s application of 14 July 2008 for the issuance of such a warrant.

Finally, the ICC says that the decision will be made public once it is reached by the normal way of a press release and publication on the Court’s website.


Child Soldiers

This afternoon, the Secretary-General will attend an event related to the Red Hand Day campaign, whose aim is to highlight the continued use of child soldiers.

The Secretary-General is expected to say that the forced recruitment and use of child soldiers is unacceptable and one of the most appalling human rights abuses in the world today. He will also say that the recruitment and use of children in warfare violates international law, as well as our most basic standards of human decency. Along with the entire UN system, he is determined to stamp out such abuse. We have embargoed copies of his remarks in my office.

UNICEF’s Executive Director, Ann Veneman, and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, will also address this afternoon’s event, which starts at 4:30 across the street at UNICEF House.

Press Conferences Tomorrow

At 10 a.m. tomorrow, here in 226, the Permanent Mission of Spain is sponsoring a press conference with Joaquín Antuña, President of Peace and Cooperation, and Elvira Sanchez Egual of the World Association of Childhood Educators, to launch the “Peace and Cooperation School Award 2009: Peace and the United Nations”.

Following my briefing tomorrow, at 12:30 p.m., the General Assembly Spokesperson will be joined by Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, to brief you on Security Council reform.

At 1:15 p.m., Christian Wenaweser, Permanent Representative of Liechtenstein and President of the States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, briefs on the conclusion of the Special Working Group on the Crime of Aggression. This press conference is sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein.

And at 2:15 p.m. tomorrow, John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, will be here to brief you on his recent trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He just came back from there.

This is all I have for you. We’ll take brief questions because I want our guest, Mr. Costa, to come up as soon as possible.

Questions and Answers

Question: I know that the ICC issued a report denying that an arrest warrant was issued about Mr. Bashir. But what about what was mentioned in the rest of the article about the fact that the meeting between Mr. Ban and Mr. Bashir was “stormy”, that they shouted at each other, and that basically it was not a very good meeting? Do you have any reaction to that from the SG?

Spokesperson: No. I will not comment on a conversation of that sort. The Secretary-General did say as much as he could say about it himself during his press conference. He talked about his conversation with [Mr. al-Bashir] during our stay in Addis Ababa.

Question: Are you saying that what’s mentioned in the report is wrong?

Spokesperson: No, I am not saying that. Yes?

Question: Can you please repeat the answer on the sealed envelope?

Spokesperson: His question was, was there a sealed envelope? I said no there was no sealed envelope delivered to the Secretary-General concerning the case of Mr. Bashir.

The other question was why did Mr. [Philippe] Kirsch [President of the International Criminal Court] cancel his meeting with journalists? I said this was a scheduling problem.

The first question was, was [Kirsch’s] meeting with the Secretary-General about the ICC case against Mr. Bashir? I said they discussed matters relating to the ICC. It was just a courtesy call.

Question: My question is related to that. When and how -- not when, sorry. How is the Secretary-General supposed to receive the first information from the ICC? We understand he will not receive it on the Internet with a press release. He’ll have an informing process. How will it be?

The second question is, once he receives that, what kind of obligation does the Secretary-General have to fulfil such an arrest warrant, generally speaking?

Spokesperson: The ICC does not have to inform the Secretary-General of a decision it takes. As you know, the Secretary-General is not informed whenever a decision is taken to indict other people. Will the Secretary-General necessarily get it, when the Secretary-General gets it, if he gets it… This is a decision for the Court, to send it as a courtesy to the Secretary-General or not. But if not, they don’t have to do it. They never do it. So why would they do it this time around? That’s the best answer I can give you.

Question: In general, for other cases as well, the other arrest warrants from the ICC, what is the Secretary-General’s designated role?

Spokesperson: He has no role. He has no role. The ICC is an independent body. It’s an international tribunal. Yes, James?

Question: Although the Court has not formally issued a warrant, Sudanese officials have been quoted speaking as if a warrant has been issued or is at least forthcoming. In this context, is the Secretary-General concerned about the peacekeeping troops stationed in Sudan? And does he reiterate any previous comments to Sudanese officials?

Spokesperson: Well, he has been saying the same thing over and over again. He talked to you at length during his press conference about this conversation with Mr. Bashir, where he mentioned the fact that they did discuss that issue. What else do you want to know?

Question: Is he more concerned now about the safety of the troops?

Spokesperson: He’s always concerned, but as he said over and over again, the ICC decision is a decision by the ICC. The Secretary-General has nothing to do with it. Yes?

Question: Yes, some diplomats are saying -- this is about the same issue -- that the Secretary-General was informed that a warrant against al-Bashir will be issued on the 20th of this month. In fact, this is a day that some diplomats are talking about and they had been informed. Do you have any information about that? And I have another question about…

Spokesperson: I think the first one I’ve already answered. We have not received anything.

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