SUDAN WATCH: ICC's Ocampo denies getting any help or information from NGOs in Darfur and says Sudan expulsions 'confirm crimes'

Saturday, March 21, 2009

ICC's Ocampo denies getting any help or information from NGOs in Darfur and says Sudan expulsions 'confirm crimes'

According to the following report from Aljazeera today, the International Criminal Court's (ICC) chief prosecutor denied getting any help or information from NGOs in Darfur. But the report makes no mention of those who worked in Chad and in other countries outside of Sudan.

Note that a report filed here at Sudan Watch [March 4, 2009 - Waging Peace submitted more than 500 children’s drawings of Darfur that were accepted by ICC as evidence in any trial] claims that last year, UK based rights group Waging Peace submitted more than 500 children’s pictures of Darfur war that were accepted by the ICC as contextual evidence to be used in any trial. Waging Peace collected the drawings from refugees in Chad.

March 21, 2009 report from Aljazeera/Agencies:
Sudan expulsions 'confirm crimes'
Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, has criticised the Sudanese president's decision to expel 13 aid agencies from the country.

Moreno-Ocampo said that the ejection of the non-governmental organisations proves that the ICC was correct to pursue Omar al-Bashir, Sudan's president, on war-crimes charges.

The Netherlands-based court granted Moreno-Ocampo's request earlier this month for a warrant for al-Bashir's arrest on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan's western Darfur region.

Al-Bashir's government has been battling ethnic African groups in Darfur since 2003 and he has been accused of orchestrating atrocities against civilians.

"This idea to expel the humanitarians is confirming the court decision," Moreno-Ocampo said in New York after the UN Security Council met to receive an updated assessment on the Darfur crisis.

"Expelling them is confirming the crimes."

Reversal rejected

Khartoum ordered the aid agencies out of Darfur after the ICC issued the arrest warrant, and has ruled out reversing that decision, despite pressure from the US and UN Security Council members.

"The decision of the government of Sudan is a legitimate sovereign decision which we will never reverse," Mohamed Yousif Ibrahim Abdelmannan, Sudan's envoy to the UN, told the council on Friday.

"This should not be a issue for discussion."

The UK, Austria, Uganda and several other countries have appealed to Khartoum to rethink its position.

A rebel group in Darfur, meanwhile, announced that it was pulling out of peace talks with the Sudanese government after the aid agencies were expelled.

"The movement cannot negotiate with the government of al-Bashir," Khalil Ibrahim, the leader of the Justice and Equality Movement (Jem), told the Reuters news agency by telephone on Friday.

Jem signed a deal with the Sudanese government after talks in the Qatari capital, Doha, last month, under which both sides agreed to undertake "good faith" measures.

"There was supposed to be a conference [in Doha] after three weeks but we will not go," Ibrahim said.

'Free prisoners'

Ibrahim said the government must allow the expelled aid agencies back into Darfur and free Jem prisoners before talks could resume.

Ibrahim signed a 'good faith deal' with Sudan after talks in Qatar last month [EPA] Rashid Khalikov, a senior UN humanitarian affairs official, told the council on Friday there were "significant signs of an erosion of humanitarian response capacity, with a concurrent impact on the lives of people in Darfur" since the 13 foreign and three domestic NGOs were expelled.

UN officials say the banished aid groups accounted for around half of the aid-distribution capacity in Darfur.

Sudan says the aid groups, including Oxfam, Save the Children and Care, helped the ICC issue the arrest warrant.

The groups reject the charge.

Moreno-Ocampo said he had received no help or information from NGOs or UN agencies in his investigation.
JEM seem to energetically welcome any excuse not to participate in peace talks.
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Report from Alarabiya.net Saturday, 21 March 2009:
US says Bashir responsible for Darfur deaths
The United States demanded late on Friday that the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir “be held accountable for each and every death" in Darfur following his decision to expel foreign aid groups.

"President Bashir and his government are responsible for and must be held accountable for each and every death caused by these callous and calculated actions," Washington's U.N. ambassador Susan Rice told the U.N. Security Council during a briefing on the humanitarian crisis in Sudan's strife-torn western region.

"We urge the international community to press the government of Sudan to reverse its expulsion edict and to ensure it does nothing to worsen an already grave situation," Rice said. "President Bashir created this crisis…He should rectify it immediately."

Without giving details, Rice told reporters after the meeting that Washington was consulting with council members and other U.N. member states on "appropriate next steps."

British, Austrian, Ugandan and several other envoys also appealed to Khartoum to rethink its position. They cited a bleak report on the humanitarian situation in Darfur from Rashid Khalikov, a senior official of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

But the Chinese and Libyan delegates were more cautious, focusing on the negative impact of the ICC arrest warrant.

British Ambassador John Sawers also had tough words for Khartoum, saying: "The United Kingdom will hold the government of Sudan responsible for the suffering that their decision causes."

The U.S. delegation requested Friday's briefing by Khalikov, who warned of "significant signs of an erosion of humanitarian response capacity, with a concurrent impact on the lives of people in Darfur."

Rice said Khartoum "owns its consequences, which will not only cost lives but leave the government locked deeper in an isolation of its own making."

Defiant Sudan

Several other ambassadors appealed to Khartoum to rescind the expulsion order. But Mohamed Yousif Abdelmannan, a Sudanese U.N. delegate, reiterated that his government's decision was irreversible.

"The decision of the government of Sudan is a legitimate sovereign decision which we will never reverse, and this should not be an issue for discussion," the Sudanese diplomat told the council.

Earlier Khalikov said the world body was still pressing for a reversal of the NGOs expulsion and recalled that a series of joint U.N.-Sudan assessments of the situation in three Darfur states was underway.

"The findings will be finalized this weekend with government counterparts in Khartoum," he noted. "We should be able to speak more next week about their impact on the wider assistance effort in Darfur."

"There is no doubt that our ability to help the people of Darfur and northern Sudan has been seriously compromised," the OCHA official said. "The current atmosphere of fear and uncertainty facing all aid organizations is affecting the assistance available to the people of Darfur."

Visiting ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who observed Friday's council proceedings, said Bashir, by expelling the humanitarian aid groups, "is confirming the crime" of extermination.

"The king is naked," Moreno-Ocampo said, referring to Bashir. "It is not my responsibility that the king is naked."

The United Nations says that 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million have been made homeless by the conflict in Darfur which erupted in February 2003.

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