by Rick Gladstone on 12 Jun 2012 | Comments
The outgoing prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, frustrated over his inability to enforce arrest warrants for the Sudanese president and three others accused of war crimes in the Darfur conflict, recommended to the Security Council on Tuesday that it take more severe action against the defendants, including possibly seizing them inside Sudan for trial in The Hague.
The prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, whose term expires at the end of June, told council members in his 15th and final report on the Darfur prosecution effort that the council also should consider requesting that all 193 members of the United Nations — not just those that recognize the court’s authority — take action to enforce the arrest warrants on President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan and the others, who include two powerful subordinates and the leader of a feared militia accused of large-scale killings, pillage and rapes.
Mr. Bashir, the only sitting head of state to be indicted on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, has repeatedly scoffed at the arrest warrants and has even traveled abroad despite the risk of arrest, although he could face that threat again next month if he attends an African Union summit meeting in Malawi.
No Sudanese officials have yet been arrested in connection with the violent campaign against non-Arab civilians in the Darfur region of western Sudan. The United Nations has said at least 300,000 people died there over the past decade and that more than 4 million were forcibly displaced. The Security Council authorized Mr. Moreno-Ocampo to begin a criminal inquiry seven years ago, and the voluminous case he developed against Mr. Bashir and the co-defendants eventually turned into a stalemate.
Besides Mr. Bashir, the others accused are Abdel Rahim Muhammad Hussein, his defense minister; Ahmad Harun, the former interior minister who is now the governor of Sudan’s South Kordofan province; and Ali Kushayb, a leader of the infamous marauding militia known as the Janjaweed.
The defendants, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo wrote in his final report, “have taken advantage of their position of power within the Sudanese government to ensure their own impunity, have refused to cooperate with the Court and have refused to abide by the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council.”
He said that his office had “consistently called for the arrest of the individuals charged in order to stop the prevailing climate of impunity in Darfur and its consequences.”
Mr. Moreno-Ocampo, an Argentine expert on human rights cases who took office as the court’s first prosecutor in 2003, told a news conference that he had suggested to council members the possibility that they could authorize an arrest operation, although he acknowledged such an outcome was unlikely.
“When you review the situation of the last seven years, it’s time to do something new in Darfur. Nothing has worked,” he said. “I suggested an idea to the council, that’s it.”
He said the council “can consider the possibility to authorize states to implement arrest operations. The council has the authority. I’m not saying they have to do it today or tomorrow. Consensus is required for these issues.”
United Nations representatives speaking praised his work, with the notable exception of Sudan’s ambassador, Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, who denied the accusations against his compatriots and castigated the prosecutor in blunt language.
“He speaks as if he were president of the world, issuing his instructions to the Security Council establishing options of which he will speak at the proper time,” Mr. Osman said. “There is no accountability system for the prosecutor which prompted him to deviate from credibility and legal professionalism.”
Mr. Osman also said he had been threatened by Mr. Moreno-Ocampo with a criminal investigation as a possible accomplice himself for denying genocide charges and other accusations. Mr. Moreno-Ocampo told reporters that he had advised the Sudanese diplomat “there is a difference between being an ambassador and being part of the crimes committed. I said, ‘Be careful because you cannot cross this line.’ ”
Source: The New York Times (US)