sudan news record

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Sudan war crimes prosecution wins US support

Ireland Online - Ireland
31/03/2005 - 07:15:21
France delayed a vote on a resolution that would authorise the prosecution of Sudanese war crimes suspects by the International Criminal Court in hopes of averting a US veto – and the additional time appears to have won over the Americans.Administration officials in Washington said last night that the US was dropping its objections to using the court after concluding that opposition to the US stand was too strong, particularly among Europeans.US President George Bush’s administration had preferred that an African court try alleged perpetrators of war crimes, but the US proposal garnered little support among the 14 other Security Council members.The US faced a dilemma: it wants the perpetrators of atrocities in Sudan’s western Darfur region brought to justice, but it vehemently opposes the International Criminal Court on grounds that Americans could face politically motivated or frivolous prosecutions.An ethnic cleansing campaign in Sudan’s western Darfur region has killed tens of thousands of people and uprooted more than two million.In return for its concession, the US received assurances that Americans deployed in Sudan, in whatever capacity, would not be subject to ICC prosecutions, the officials said. They asked not to be identified because the decision has not been officially announced.The US decision to allow the court to prosecute war crimes perpetrators could raise hackles among conservatives for whom the court is an unaccountable body that cannot be trusted to the right thing.The 97 countries that have ratified the 1998 Rome Treaty establishing the court – including all European Union nations – maintain that there are sufficient safeguards built into the process to prevent unwarranted prosecutions.France agreed to postpone a vote until today after the US said it wanted to amend the draft resolution to ensure that no Americans could be handed over to the court in The Hague, the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal, UN diplomats said.The 15 Security Council nations have been deadlocked for weeks on the issue of holding people accountable in Sudan, and the court’s supporters have demanded a vote on the French resolution.The French draft introduced last week would refer Darfur cases since July 1, 2002 to the International Criminal Court. That was the recommendation of a UN panel that had found crimes against humanity – but not genocide – occurred in the vast western region.In a clear concession to the US, the resolution said citizens of countries that have not ratified the treaty establishing the court will not be subject to prosecution by the court if they take part in activities in Sudan.Diplomats said Washington was concerned that the language wasn’t airtight and therefore proposed the amendments.


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