Human rights groups are reportedly criticizing
Turkey for hosting Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir at the two-day
Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit, urging Ankara to reject any effort to suspend
the International Criminal Court's (ICC) investigation. This comes after
President Bashir said Wednesday that no citizen of his country would ever be
handed over to international justice to be tried abroad, no matter the
international pressure brought bear on his administration. He adds that the ICC
prosecutor's move was encouraging rebels in the western Darfur region to fuel
unrest to unseat his government. Sara Darehshori is a Senior Counsel, of the
International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch. She tells reporter Peter
Clottey that Bashir's pronouncement is no news.
statement is actually not news. Several government officials have been claiming
it ever since the ICC first started looking into the situation in Darfur. But
the thing about the claim is that it is not totally inaccurate in one sense,
and that is, if the Sudanese government decides to try the people who have been
charged by the ICC for the same crimes in national courts in proceedings, then
they can bring an admissibility challenge before the ICC, which is to say the
way the International Criminal Court was established was so that national
courts would have primary jurisdiction over cases. But that means the government
would have to be willing and able to try the case themselves,"
She said Khartoum has not
shown it was willing to put on trial those accused of committing various acts
of crime against humanity in Darfur.
this case, Sudan has not shown itself so far to be willing to try any of the
people involved in the crime in Darfur. So it is unlikely that an admissibility
challenge will succeed. So the real challenge will be securing arrest without
cooperation of the Sudanese government," She said.
said supporters of Khartoum have been reportedly been using violence and
intimidation in Darfur.
"What I have heard is that
there is a fear of retaliation by government forces or government sympathizers
allied militia against peacekeepers and humanitarian workers if an arrest
warrant is issued. But with all parties, be it rebels or government forces,
international humanitarian law requires that they not attack peacekeepers or
humanitarian workers. The Security Council and others need to make it clear
that if additional crimes are committed, there would be consequences for those
acts," Darehshori pointed out.
She described as
embarrassing support given to Khartoum over a possible indictment of President
Bashir over war crimes in Darfur.
"I think that threats of
retaliation and I think attacks on peacekeepers should make it basically
embarrassing for people who are supporters of the Sudanese government in this
context to continue to support them. This type of regime is not something that
other governments should be willing to stand behind even if in principle they
think that issuing an arrest warrants against the head of a government while it
is still in conflict is problematic," she said.
Bashir reportedly said that the attempt to use the international justice against
Sudan is an attempt to encourage rebel groups opposing peace to continue
destruction and destabilization to topple the Khartoum regime. He added that
his country has its own judicial institutions capable of trying anyone who
International Criminal Court last month asked for President Bashir's
arrest on 10 counts of war crimes, crimes against
humanity, and genocide in Darfur.