World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

Sudan, Justice And Peace: The Stakes Have Gone Up

Sudan, Justice And Peace: Ensuring Sudan Complies With International Law

By Sara Darehshori, Senior Counsel, International Justice Program, Human Rights Watch and Suliman Baldo, Africa Director, the International Center for Transitional Justice

Monday's request by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for an arrest warrant charging President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan with crimes against humanity and genocide is generating enormous debate and controversy. Diplomats express increasing concern that the arrest warrant will endanger the work of humanitarian organizations and peacekeepers in Sudan.

But the actor holding the key to these issues is Sudan's government. It is up to the international community - beginning with the UN Security Council - to ensure that Sudan complies with international law by being prepared to hold the government accountable for retaliatory attacks against peacekeepers and aid workers.

Official spokespersons for President Bashir's government and the ruling National Congress Party took a threatening stance even before the prosecutor's formal request. They accuse chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo of serving not justice but Western political interests. They reject the court's jurisdiction and, with no hint of irony, gravely warn that arrest warrants will destroy the chances of peace in Darfur. But there is no peace in Darfur.

Sudanese officials, including President Bashir, have cited their commitment to a peacekeeping force deployed in Darfur by the United Nations and the African Union, and to protecting humanitarian workers and peacekeepers. They are quick to say that that the ICC's action threatens these commitments.

The international community should stand ready to respond to any retaliatory measures against international peacekeeping or humanitarian operations. International law requires full, safe and unhindered access of relief personnel to all those in need in Darfur as well as the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

Deliberate targeting of peacekeepers or humanitarian workers is a war crime.

Rather than back away from its commitment to ending impunity for horrific international crimes, the Security Council should ensure Sudan's government fulfills its obligations to provide unhindered access to humanitarian workers and peacekeepers to those in need. If Sudan conducts reprisal attacks against UN or relief personnel because of Monday's announcement, the Security Council should hold accountable those responsible for the violence. UN member states with information that could help identify perpetrators should share it with UN investigators.

For more than a year Khartoum has thumbed its nose at the Security Council. It was the Security Council that in 2005 asked the ICC's prosecutor to investigate the situation in Darfur.

In 2007, the court issued arrest warrants for two Sudanese for crimes against humanity and war crimes. Last September, during the UN Secretary-General's visit to Sudan, the government showed its contempt for international law by appointing one of the two to co-chair a committee designated to hear human rights complaints. More recently, instead of turning over the fugitives, officials in Khartoum called for the arrest of the ICC prosecutor.

The Security Council must not allow itself to be blackmailed. Moreno-Ocampo last month told the Council of repeated large-scale attacks in the Darfur region against civilians, systematic rapes, the usurpation of land and the disintegration of entire communities. He said he was likely to pursue charges against government authorities 'at the highest level' as the crimes clearly indicated a plan based on mobilisation of the entire state apparatus. The Council responded by unanimously calling on Sudan's government to cooperate with the court.

With the request for warrants against Bashir, the stakes have gone up. The Council, however, must stand firm. If the government of Sudan is allowed to use threats of additional violence and further crimes to defer or even dispel the possibility of justice, the victims of Darfur are ultimately betrayed.

ENDS

Latest World News | Top World News | World Digest | Archives | RSS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC