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ICC Prosecutor Urges UN to Consider Sudanese Arrests

  • Larry Freund

International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo gestures during a news conference in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday Jan. 24, 2012.

International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo gestures during a news conference in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday Jan. 24, 2012.

NEW YORK - The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, has urged the U.N. Security Council to consider asking countries to arrest Sudanese officials indicted by the court for crimes in Darfur.

The International Criminal Court, the ICC, has indicted four Sudanese officials for war crimes in Darfur, including Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir and Defense Minister Abdel Raheem Hussein. But none of the officials have been arrested.

The court’s chief prosecutor told the Security Council that carrying out the court’s arrest warrants would produce a dramatic change in Darfur and the failure to arrest the four men is a direct challenge to the Security Council’s authority.

He said it is not the responsibility of U.N. peacekeepers in Sudan, known as UNAMID, to make the arrests. “Instead, the Council can in due course evaluate other possibilities including asking U.N. member states or regional organizations to execute arrest operations in furtherance of the arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court," he said.

Sudan’s ambassador, Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman rejected the prosecutor’s suggestion, accusing him of ignoring the U.N. Charter. “We condemn and denounce in the strongest terms the recommendations of the prosecutor asking the Security Council to take other legal measures to implement what he calls arrest warrants, and his incitements of the Council to call upon states in this organization and in other regional organizations to do the same," he said.

The representative of the United States, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, said his country is gravely concerned about the situation in Sudan and the role that continuing impunity for crimes committed in Darfur has played in forestalling a just and enduring peace. “We encourage the Council to consider creative approaches and new tools. As members of the Security Council, we can and should review additional steps that can be undertaken to effectuate the ICC’s work in Darfur, execute outstanding arrest warrants, and insure compliance by states with relevant international obligations," he said.

At the end of the Security Council discussion, ICC prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo told the Security Council he is putting Sudan’s ambassador on notice that by denying the charges against the Sudanese officials, he could also be participating in the crimes. Osman responded the prosecutor’s remarks were a violation of political and diplomatic norms, and were the statement of a terrorist.

Rebels in Darfur took up arms in 2003, accusing the government of neglecting the western Sudanese region. The U.N. estimates the conflict has killed about 300,000 people and displaced more than 2.5 million.

The International Criminal Court indicted the Sudanese president for war crimes and crimes against humanity in 2009, saying he masterminded a campaign of murder, rape, and other crimes against civilians in Darfur.

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