Darfur and the International Criminal Court

In Salon Ibn Rushdby

The Cairo Institute of Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) organized an intellectual meeting at Ibn Roshd salon titled “The International Criminal Court in Sudan, a step towards human rights or impairment of national sovereignty”. CIHRS invited activists and researchers in human rights, and was attended by a large number of Darfour citizens as well some from Cairo who are interested in Sudan.

The participating experts launched a very hard attack on the Arab regimes for committing violations against their people, and they supported the latest Security Council resolution regarding legal prosecution of those who committed war crimes in Darfour at the Criminal Court in Hugh. They accused the Sudanese Government of committing horrible crimes against the people in Darfour, and asserted that the Security Council decision is committing to the Sudanese Government, and is irrevocable; that the issue is not interference in Sudan&#146s sovereignty but an issue of a system that protects itself from paying the price.

Background on Resolution:
Abdul Mone&#146im Al-Jak, in change of Sudan program at the CIHRS discussed the background behind the latest three Security Council resolutions regarding Sudan, specifically resolution 1953 with the diverse situations about the different parties, locally, in the Arab world, as well as internationally. He indicated the procedures of the Sudanese Government to refute the latest resolution for internal public mobilization with the associated tightening the grip on freedom of expression, and peaceful gatherings through detentions, prevention from travel, violence against students, as well as siege of the roles of political parties “Dar El-Omma Party”. He expressed his surprise that the resistance refuted resolution No. 1593 claiming the national sovereignty, and accepting resolution 1591 related to economic sanctions, freedom of movement, as well as resolution 1590 related to the dispatch of 10,000 foreign soldiers to maintain peace in Sudan.

Al-Jak stated that the resolutions came as a result of killing 30,000 and emigration of 2 million others, and that created a reasonable global interest from the international community and the United Nations, and since July 2004, 9 resolutions were issued and an emergency session of the Security Council in Nairobi, Kenya&#146s capital; and a warning by the Secretary General of the United Nations one year ago for repeating the Rwanda disaster. In addition, a report of the National Committee for investigating truths in Darfour described the Sudanese Judiciary system as being technically inefficient and lacks the political justice willingness; there is absence in Sudanese legislation of convictions for crimes against humanity and war crimes, contrary to the International Criminal Court that is professional and independent from the United Nations and governments. It is non-political with elected judges; it is concerned with crimes included in the report of the International Committee, since there is no other court with similar specialties, he warned against the Sudanese Government&#146s betting to create a chaotic scenario and exploiting the reactions on the resolutions to create a fight with or against the resolution, especially since the region is socially and regionally strained.

Not Sovereignty:
Hafez Abu Se&#146da, Secretary General of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights explained that the Darfour crimes are, for the first time, crimes from the Government against its people, which required elevating the case to the Security Council according to Chapter 7 of UN charter. Incrimination is a major error against the people, owners of sovereignty. He added the issue is not one of interference in Sudan&#146s sovereignty, but an issue of a system that protects itself form paying the price, which resulted in international interference. A foreigner comes in because of the violations of sovereignty such as murder and massive torture, isolating people, rape, arbitrary dismissal, detentions, and others. He asked where the sovereignty was alleged by the Khartoum regime when it accepted the International Committee for investigating truths in Darfour; when it opened the doors for them and facilitated their work; and when its report contained crimes of murder and theft. Where was the government when the committee questioned those in charge and ended by convicting 51 persons, describing the case by “Othman” shirt and Qurans on the edge of spears, asserting that the International Court is more just than any other Arab Judicial system, that there is no death sentence as in the Sudanese courts? Abu Se&#146da also stated that the International Criminal Court comprises African judges and its charter of establishment was approved by 46 African countries. He stated the Arab parties relied on some lies around Darfour in self defense. There is absence of justice and a widespread of corruptions and violations. Any Arab who opposes authority, wealth or influence is, according to dominating powers, either a foreign agent or a party member, or insane. He added that everyone should be subject to punishment regardless of the political position of the defendant.

Abu Se&#146da asserted that the Sudanese Government will approve the latest Security Council resolution; it will reconsider its position, just like Iraq and Syria, since this resolution is irrevocable. He urged to hold to the benefits of the Security Council resolution, indicating it is unprecedented in the Arab countries and deserves support from the fighters of Human rights until sovereignty returns to the people.

Unlikely revoking:
Abdullah Khalil, Attorney and active specialist in Human Rights asserted that the decision is committing to the Sudanese Government, and it is unlikely to be revoked. However, there is an opportunity to postpone the execution of this decision for a period not to exceed 24 months. He added that there is justice in the International Court, and is stipulations are not included in the Arab courts. The most important guarantees include protection against torture; confessions without details, absence of severe convictions or life sentence, the right to hire an attorney and witnesses for the convicted, and the right to appeal. He added that the judges of the International Criminal Court are independent, are selected based on objective conditions; they are financially and administratively independent. Not approving the Roma treaty will not dismiss the crimes committed in Darfour after 2002 regardless of the defendant&#146s position or location. This decision is a message to all Arab systems; lack of approval would not dismiss trials for crimes.

Khalil stated that the crisis of assassinating “Rafik El Hariri” is a strongly worded warning from the international community to the Arab judiciary systems. The Security Council resolutions have stressed national sovereignty. Violence against civilians, women abuse, and sexual harassment are crimes against humanity with international characteristic. Article 17 of the International Court poses a question whether there has been a serious and fair investigation on all crimes committed? Was there any intention to pardon those who committed crimes? He added the international court is continued supremacy; it is not temporary like Yugoslavia and Rwanda courts.

Ending the Evil Circle:
Magdi Al Na&#146im, Executive Director of the CIHRS added that the Sudanese Government stated that the latest Security Council resolution targeted the Government and the State, which is doubtful. The International community&#146s support of the system in “Nifasha” is the strongest evidence negating this statement. He referred to the donors meeting in Oslo which gave the government more than what it asked for. The resolution came as a coronation to a bundle of resolutions that place Sudan in a new path under international guardianship. It is not just a trial of individuals, but a beginning to end an evil circle in the history of human rights.

Al Na&#146im also observed a fragile division in the Sudanese political powers and the Arab parties, as well as fluctuations in the position regarding the crisis. The decisions related to confining citizens&#146 movement and limiting their freedom of action in money, the dispatch of 10,000 soldiers with various tasks, supporting and restructuring the police forces, the cease fire situation, confronting armed groups and helping the North and South to build judiciary and law systems, all of the above represent actual confiscation of Sudan&#146s sovereignty and surveillance of individuals&#146 behaviors.

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