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ICC’s Controversial Verdict

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Mahmoud Mohammadzadeh

After two years of discussions, the chief prosecutor of the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo has issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. Ocampo has accused Al-Bashir of ordering his forces to destroy ethnic tribal groups such as Fur (about 25 percent of the population) and Masalit.

Thousands of people of Sudan staged a rally in Khartum in the wake of issuance of the warrant. Meanwhile, the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) welcomed the ICC’s decision. ICC was established in 2002 and has so far issued significant verdicts against some politicians responsible for great crisis. Among these verdicts one could refer to the ones issued against former President of Liberia, Charles Taylor and former president of former Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic.

However, the difference between the previous verdicts and the recent verdict issued against Sudan is that this time around an incumbent president has been targeted and ICC actually acted against sovereignty of a country.

Therefore, this verdict, despite previous verdicts which were admired by the public opinion and politicians, has been subject to the most intense objections.

Except a few western governments, which displayed a satisfactory silence toward or explicit support for the verdict, members of several great global organizations such as Arab League (AL), the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), African Union (AU) and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), who make up for two-thirds of members of the UN, have challenged the legitimacy and efficacy of the verdict.

It seems that most governments and international bodies are trying to suspend the ICC’s verdict. This was actually an approach proposed by the Libyan chair of the UN Security Council before the verdict was issued who said based on Article 16 of Rome Treaty, UNSC can suspend ICC’s verdict for a period of one year.

In assessment of the crisis that has emerged in the wake of unconventional verdict of ICC, there are several ambiguities and questions. There are clear indications at hand which seriously question the legal credibility of the ICC’s decision.

Complaint against Al-Bashir came to the fore through the follow-ups and direct letters of the European sides, especially France, which is itself a political side engaged in Sudan’s conflict.

Long before the team for investigating Darfur was established in ICC, America, along with the western side in the UNSC, issued a verdict against Sudan and Al-Bashir and a few sanctions and punitive measures were approved.

These countries did not even deny that their decision was aimed at a regime change in Sudan. The issue whether the incentive of European and American governments in their dispute against Sudan is to restore calm and peace to the crisis-stricken Darfur region or not is a question that even realistic western observers do not respond to positively.

One reason for rejecting this claim was clarified last year on International Darfur Day when tens of international organizations released their reports on the trend of developments in the four-year-old Darfur tragedy. In most these reports, the silence of the US and European countries vis-ˆ-vis the tragedy was underlined. Of course, in these reports there was a reference made to another harsh reality and that being traces of the ’black gold’ could be detected in the conflict. Due to its abundance of oil and energy resources and from the time when it chose China as its main partner in oil transactions, Sudan was subjected to western sanctions.

It should be recalled here that ICC verdict was issued at the time when Sudan in the near future will hold its important elections and Al-Bashir, as the representative of the Islamist political current, continues to be the superior force present on the scene.

It is also to be noted that after the issuance of the ICC verdict on Wednesday, President Barack Obama has sought the consultation of Sudan’s opposition groups.

Source: Iran Daily

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