Monday, July 21, 2008

Indicted For War Crimes, Sudan Cites U.S. As Example Why It Needn't Comply

Last week, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) filed charges for the first time against a sitting head of state, charging President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan with three counts of genocide, five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes. Fareed Zakaria had Sudan's ambassador to the United Nations on his CNN show, GPS, to discuss the charges, which he called "a joke" and cited the U.S.' 2002 withdrawal from the ICC treaty as an example of why Sudan does not recognize the court's authority and will not cooperate with it:

ZAKARIA: Will your government mount a defense in the International Criminal Court?

MOHAMAD: We have no relation with the International Criminal Court. We don't recognize its authority. We are not going to cooperate with it.

ZAKARIA: But of course, you know that other governments that did not recognize the Criminal Court were still forced to extradite their leaders. I'm thinking of Yugoslavia.

MOHAMAD: No. I don't care about them. As far as we are concerned, we are not members. We have been told these days repeatedly that the ICC is an independent body. And so, OK, if it's an independent body, I am not a U.N. organ. We have full right to be part of it or not. And we choose not to be part of it, like the United States.


ZAKARIA: Are you worried that men like yourself, who are defending the regime and defending its actions, could be charged with complicity for genocide?"

MOHAMAD: "This is absolutely a joke. What complicity you are talking about? If you want to address genocides, then you have to address situations in Iraq and Afghanistan and in Gaza.…(full transcript)
Complicating the ICC's ability to pursue war crimes charges, as referenced in the interview by Sudan's UN ambassador, is President Bush's "unsigning" of the International Criminal Court treaty in 2002. Though President Bush has publicly denounced the killings in Sudan as genocide, the administration has soft-pedaled sanctions against the Sudanese government to preserve its extensive intelligence collaboration with Sudan, once a safe haven for bin Laden that has become a crossroads for Islamic militants making their way to Iraq and Pakistan.

The most major impediment to ending the genocide in Darfur has been China's longstanding diplomatic protection and economic support in return for its access to the 500,000 barrels of oil that Sudan produces daily. China, also not a signatory to the ICC treaty, was revealed in a report about a week ago by the BBC to be in violation of the UN arms embargo there through its export of weapons and training of fighter pilots.

Supporters of Barack Obama who would like to see the United States reembrace the International Criminal Court (ICC) treaty, thereby reaffirming its commitment to human rights, have created a group on the candidate's website,