SUDAN WATCH: AU corrects Reuters re AUPD position on ICC Darfur

Monday, July 13, 2009

AU corrects Reuters re AUPD position on ICC Darfur

Reporting by Tsegaye Tadesse for Reuters appears to be rubbish.  Bring back Andrew Heavens.  From Bec Hamilton Saturday, 11 July 2009:
I have spoken to two people this afternoon who were actually at the press conference yesterday that the Reuters piece came out of. They both said there was absolutely no way you could have left the press conference with the impression that the Panel had even decided on the issue, let alone decided to support the arrest of Bashir. They are pretty furious, and understandably so. For their part Reuters have at least issued a correction.
Press Statement from African Union
Clarification - African Union Panel on Darfur’s Position on the ICC and Darfur
Addis Ababa, 11 July 2009: The African Union High Level Panel on Darfur (AUPD) has noted a Reuters news report which claims that the former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, Chairperson of the Panel, has called on the three Sudanese personalities, including President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir to present themselves before the International Criminal Court to stand trial.

This report is completely false and highly irresponsible. No member of the Panel has made any such pronouncement. Indeed, no member of the Panel could make any such pronouncement as the Panel has not yet completed its work.

At a press conference held at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa yesterday, Mr. Mbeki was asked about the Panel’s position on the ICC arrest warrant against President Bashir. Mr. Mbeki indicated that the Panel operated on the basis that the ICC warrant “is a given”. He, however, acknowledged that some of the interested parties with whom the Panel has met had called for ICC trials.

The Panel was established to address the issues of peace, reconciliation and justice in Darfur. These issues are fundamental to resolving the crisis of Sudan as manifested in Darfur. The search for peace, reconciliation and justice for Darfur is broader than the ICC process. In this connection, the ICC Prosecutor, Mr. Luis Moreno Ocampo, reiterated his support for the Panel’s work when he met with the Panel this week in Addis Ababa.

The Panel has previously met with the Government of Sudan, representatives of some of the armed opposition movements, political parties, civil society representatives, internally displaced people, refugees, tribal leaders, Native Authorities of Darfur. The Panel has also met with some of Sudan’s neighbouring countries, representatives of other foreign governments and institutions, amongst others.

The Panel will continue with its work and will hand over its report to the AU in September.
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CORRECTED - Mbeki-led African panel says no stance on
From Reuters Sat Jul 11, 2009 4:50am EDT
(Corrects to show that panel has no position on ICC)
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - An African Union (AU) panel led by South Africa's former President Thabo Mbeki said it had not taken a stance on an international court's indictment of Sudanese officials including President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

Fighting between the government, its allies and a myriad of rebel groups in Sudan's western region has claimed as many as 300,000 people, according to the United Nations, but Khartoum says only 10,000 have died since clashes broke out in 2003.

"The panel has not taken a position whether or not the intervention of the (International Criminal Court) in Sudan or the arrest warrants the court has issued are appropriate," it said in a statement.

The ICC has indicted Bashir on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and torture.

He has dismissed the allegations as part of a Western conspiracy, and the AU has sought a deferment of the indictment, saying it has complicated peace efforts in Darfur.

An AU summit in Libya last week voted to suspend cooperation with ICC in the matter.

Mbeki told reporters on Friday that his panel of eight eminent Africans had consulted widely inside and outside Sudan.

"The consensus reached is that those charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity should appear in court and defend themselves," he said. "The warrant has been issued. There is nothing that can be done."

(Reporting by Tsegaye Tadesse; Editing by Giles Elgood)
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Mbeki-led African panel backs Darfur warrants
From Reuters Fri Jul 10, 2009 10:46am EDT
ADDIS ABABA, July 10, 2009
(Reuters) - An African Union (AU) panel led by South Africa's former President Thabo Mbeki backed on Friday an international court's indictment of Sudanese officials including President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for war crimes.

The panel's recommendation showed the differences around Africa over the indictment for crimes in the Darfur conflict. An AU summit in Libya last week voted to suspend cooperation with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the matter.

Mbeki told reporters his panel of eight eminent Africans had consulted widely inside and outside Sudan.

"The consensus reached is that those charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity should appear in court and defend themselves," he said. "The warrant has been issued. There is nothing that can be done."

The ICC has indicted Bashir on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and torture.

He has dismissed the allegations as part of a Western conspiracy, and the AU has sought a deferment of the indictment, saying it has complicated peace efforts in Darfur.

U.N. officials say the Darfur conflict in Sudan's western region has killed as many as 300,000 people since 2003. (Reporting by Tsegaye Tadesse; Editing by Sophie Hares)
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Excerpt from Alex de Waal's blog post Sunday, July 12th, 2009 The AU Panel and the Justice Challenge (1) at Making Sense of Darfur:
The allegation that Pres. Mbeki was intent on salvaging Pres. Bashir came up several times in the discussion. One woman said, “We fear you are here to defend the criminal Omar al Bashir.” One man stood up and said, “Seven members of my family were killed. How should I feel if Thabo Mbeki says that Omar al Bashir should not go to court?”

Pres. Mbeki challenged him, “from where did you get this information that I said that President Bashir should not go to court?”
The man responded, “it is well known.” He then said that the Africans were the ones saying Bashir should not go to the ICC, citing the early June meeting in Addis Ababa to discuss the African position on the ICC. This reply did not satisfy Pres. Mbeki, who continued to press him, “I asked you a question. Please answer it. You made an allegation. From where did you get this information?” The man said it was the BBC.

In response, Pres. Mbeki made several points. First, he suggested that the man should obtain his information directly from the source, in Africa, not from outside Africa. Mbeki said that he had not made any statement on whether Bashir should go court, or not. Second, he pointed out that the outcome of the June meeting in Addis Ababa had not been withdrawal from the ICC. Third, he explained the content of the resolutions of the Peace and Security Council on the issue, and promised to ensure that copies of the resolutions were sent so that the people could study them first hand and not rely on others’ interpretations.

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