WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Enough Project today issued the following statement in response to an announcement by the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. The statement, which follows, is from John Prendergast, Co-chair, John Norris, Executive Director, and Omer Ismail, Policy Advisor:
Today the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, or I.C.C., Luis Moreno-Ocampo, applied for an arrest warrant for war crimes against several members of a splinter rebel faction in Darfur related to the September 29, 2007, attack on African Union peacekeepers in Haskanita. The Chief Prosecutor's actions are a powerful reminder that the Court will pursue justice with an even hand and follow the chain of evidence with regard to crimes against humanity wherever it leads.
Today's move by the prosecutor makes clear that repeated claims by the Sudanese government that it is being unfairly targeted by the Court are without merit. Now that government officials, rebels, and militia leaders all have been subject to I.C.C. actions, it is clear that the Court is pursuing its work in a professional and impartial manner. Further, this balanced pursuit of accountability underscores the importance of all sides in the conflict partaking in credible peace talks and forging a lasting solution. While the United Nations Security Council can invoke Article 16 to defer specific cases on a rolling one-year basis, it only should do so in the overwhelming interest of peace. Efforts by parties, including the Sudanese Government, to build support for invoking Article 16 will not be taken seriously until there is a peace to keep in Darfur.
To read the I.C.C. Chief Prosecutor's statement, click here.
Separately, the Court is still waiting to determine if it will issue an arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir for charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. We believe these charges to have merit, and the issuance of an arrest warrant coupled with a change of administration in Washington can combine to create a transformative opportunity for Darfur. Many governments that had earlier expressed unqualified support for Bashir are backing away quietly, making it increasingly plausible that it will be politically feasible for Bashir to be replaced as president of Sudan if his fellow party members follow the letter of the law in Sudan, hold him accountable for his actions, and push him to the side. An arrest warrant would also present a golden opportunity to use the regime's desire to suspend these judicial proceedings as leverage not only in forging a peace agreement in Darfur but in getting implementation of the existing North-South peace deal back on track.
The Enough Project, Save Darfur, and the Genocide Intervention Network jointly have called on President-elect Obama and his transition team to develop a new strategy for Sudan, or a peace surge, built around strong diplomacy, improved civilian protection, escalating pressure on the parties to the conflict, and justice. President Obama can help lead an international effort to construct a viable, sustained, high-level peace process that addresses the fundamental issues in Darfur and Sudan more broadly. The time is right also for a concerted multilateral effort to see an indicted Bashir resign the presidency and face extradition to The Hague, which would have a profound effect on the domestic political situation in Sudan. Peace remains possible in Sudan, and today the Chief Prosecutor took an important step in helping the international community fulfill that goal.
Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on crises in Sudan, Chad, eastern Congo, northern Uganda, Somalia, and Zimbabwe. Enough's strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a "3P" crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. To learn more about Enough and what you can do to help, go to www.enoughproject.org.