SUDAN WATCH: US, UK, France, Austria, Croatia oppose deferral of ICC indictment of Bashir Darfur case

Friday, February 13, 2009

US, UK, France, Austria, Croatia oppose deferral of ICC indictment of Bashir Darfur case

U.S., France, UK oppose suspending Bashir Darfur case
From Reuters Thursday, February 12, 2009
By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS - U.S., British and French diplomats told African Union and Arab League delegates on Thursday that they oppose suspending a war crimes indictment of Sudan's president over atrocities in Darfur, diplomats said. [...]

"At this moment we're not ready to support an initiative that would implement Article 16," French Deputy Ambassador Jean-Pierre Lacroix said, referring to an ICC statute that allows the Security Council to suspend the court's proceedings for up to a year at a time.

Lacroix spoke after a closed-door meeting between U.N. Security Council members and African and Arab delegations.

Council diplomats said the U.S., British, Austrian and Croatian envoys also told the meeting that they opposed deferral of an ICC indictment of Bashir. Russia and China joined the Africans and Arabs in voicing support for a deferral, saying it was in the interests of peace.

Lacroix said the supporters of a suspension appeared to lack a majority in the council. Since Britain, France and the United States are permanent council members with veto powers, they could block any moves to invoke Article 16.

As expected the informal council meeting took no action but diplomats said they would be returning to the issue.

Britain's Africa minister Mark Malloch Brown said earlier this week that it was "completely unlikely that anything is going to happen which could lead to an Article 16 deferral." [...]

China, the African Union and Arab League have all suggested that an indictment of Bashir could destabilize the region, worsen the Darfur conflict and threaten a troubled peace deal between north Sudan and the semi-autonomous south. [...]

(Additional reporting by Aaron Robert Gray-Block and Catherine Hornby in Amsterdam, Andrew Heavens in Khartoum, Skye Wheeler in Juba, South Sudan; Editing by Eric Beech)

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