Global Policy Forum

Sudan in Dock over Darfur Fugitives: ICC Prosecutor


By Rob Taylor

August 7, 2007

The Sudanese government must hand over for trial the man accused of masterminding the Darfur massacre or risk becoming a pariah nation, the International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor said on Tuesday. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, speaking after Darfur rebel groups agreed on a common platform for peace negotiations with Khartoum, said any peace deal would have to respect international law and ICC warrants for the arrest of Sudanese minister Ahmad Harun.

"Sudan cannot be a pariah country. They know it is important. The government needs legitimacy, so they will respect the law," Moreno-Ocampo told Reuters during a visit to Australia. The Hague-based ICC in February issued a warrant for the arrest of former interior minister Harun, charging him with masterminding murderous attacks between 2003 and 2004 which caused millions of people to flee their homes in Darfur.

Accusing Harun, now humanitarian affairs minister, of recruiting and arming local militias to combat rebels, the court also issued a warrant for the arrest of pro-government Janjaweed militia leader Ali Kushayb. The Sudanese government has refused to act on both warrants, saying there is no evidence against the pair and arguing Sudan, like the United States, is not an ICC signatory.

But Moreno-Ocampo, who will report to the United Nations Security Council on Sudan in December, said both Harun and Kushayb would face justice, if not soon then in the long term. "Look what happened with Taylor, look what happened with Milosevic. It's a clear trend. There is no more impunity for these cases," he said. Former Liberian President Charles Taylor is facing trial in the Hague for war crimes over the war in Sierra Leone, while former Serb strongman Slobodan Milosevic died during his trial for crimes against humanity in Kosovo and Bosnia.

"For me, the problem is not how long it will take to arrest Harun. The problem is how the investigation helped to contribute to the prevention of future crimes," Moreno-Ocampo said. The ICC was asked by the Security Council in 2005 to investigate atrocities in Darfur, where up to 200,000 people have died in a four-year war against mostly non-Arab rebels. Moreno-Ocampo said his investigation of crimes in the Darfur region had now entered its next phase, following on from an investigation into atrocities committed during the peak of the conflict and leaving the door open to more warrants. "I intend to focus on what happened today with the 2 million people displaced," he said. "Are they forced to stay in the camps? Who are attacking them? What happened with other actors?"


Likewise, any peace agreement reached between Uganda's government and Lord's Resistance Army commander Joseph Kony would have to take account of ICC demands for Kony's arrest, Moreno-Ocampo said, ruling out any impunity or exile deal to secure a peace. "Legally I cannot do it. We presented evidence before judges. We presented a very strong case showing how the LRA commander was personally ordering the killings and abductions. "I think we have to arrest them. If you arrest Koni tomorrow, tomorrow you will have peace and justice together."

The ICC has issued arrest warrants for Kony and four senior LRA commanders for war crimes committed during a 21-year guerrilla conflict involving the forced recruitment of child soldiers and the slaughter of their families. "Humanity has decided to draw a line. Stop this. Any solution has to be compatible with the ICC treaty," Moreno-Ocampo said. Moreno-Ocampo said the ICC, which has few signatories in Asia, would inevitably grow stronger as more nations began to have confidence in its operations. "In 10 years or 20 years all Asia will be on board, so this idea is flying," he said.

More Information on International Justice
More Information on the ICC Investigations in Darfur
More Information on International Criminal Court Investigations
More Information on the International Criminal Court
More Information on Sudan


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