Thursday, June 09, 2011

Sudan: Omar al-Bashir continues to commit crimes against humanity

UN - Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir continues to commit crimes against humanity and carry out genocide against the residents of Darfur in defiance of the United Nations, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo, told the Security Council today.

In 2005 the Council referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC after a UN inquiry found serious violations of international human rights law. The ICC has since issued arrest warrants against Mr. Bashir on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, making him the first sitting head of State to be indicted by the court.

“President al-Bashir has learned how to continue to commit crimes challenging the authority of the UN Security Council, and ignoring Resolution 1593, as well as other resolutions,” Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said as he presented his 13th report to the Council.

Mr. Bashir and his supporters “continue denying the crimes, attributing them to other factors (such as inter-tribal clashes), diverting attention by publicizing ceasefire agreements that are violated as soon as they are announced, and finally proposing the creation of special courts to conduct investigations that will never start,” he said.

“The challenge to the Security Council’s authority is further evidence that the extermination of the Fur, Massalit and Zaghawa, as well as any tribe deemed disloyal to the regime, is a policy defined by the top leadership of the Government of the Sudan.

“It is calculated to ensure that the armed forces, their associated militia and other security bodies will continue committing new crimes, with the same modus operandi, wherever and whenever they are instructed to do so.”

Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said Mr. Bashir had threatened the international community with retaliation and more crimes as a result of his indictment. “This tactic is not new; it is the documented practice of massive criminals – denial, cover-up, and threat of repetition.”

He urged the Council to use the information exposed by the ICC to stop the crimes in Darfur, adding that the “prosecution, fulfilling its mandate, is willing to assist.”

Speaking to reporters after briefing the Council, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo noted that the recent arrest of the Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic, after nearly 16 years on the run, had shown the world that arrest warrants will eventually be carried out.

“Arrest warrants are not going away. Bashir is destined to face justice. The problem is the time [it will take] for the victims,” said Mr. Moreno-Ocampo.

He also told that the Council another Sudanese war crimes suspect indicted by the ICC for atrocities in Darfur, Ahmad Harun, has continued his illegal actions with impunity as a senior Government official.

“The record of Ahmad Harun provides a clear demonstration of the risk of impunity and ignoring information about crimes,” said Mr. Moreno-Ocampo.

“In my seventh report to this Council… three years ago, I expressed concern about Harun having been dispatched to Abyei to ‘address disputes’ between the Misseriya and the SPLM/A [Sudan People Liberation Movement/Army]. Following his dispatch, as I reported, Abyei was burned down, with 50,000 civilians displaced.

“In my ninth report, presented on 5 June 2009, two years ago, I expressed concern about Harun’s appointment… as Governor of South Kordofan. He is presenting himself as an efficient operator and is dubbed by the some members of the international community as the man to talk to get things done.”

Mr. Moreno-Ocampo also noted to the Council that the ICC had in March confirmed war crimes charges against two rebel leaders who stand accused of orchestrating the 2007 attack that resulted in the death of 12 African Union peacekeepers in the Haskanita area of Darfur.

Abdallah Banda and Saleh Jerbo have not disputed their participation in the attack and both have committed to surrender voluntarily to the ICC for trial. They have, however, demanded that Mr. Bashir too appear before ICC judges and respect the court’s decisions, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo told the Council.