- The Washington Times - Monday, July 28, 2008




The United Nations, chronically unable to help citizens brutally abused by their own rulers, is now being shown up by Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), who, after an extended investigation, is determined to bring to justice a head of state long notorious for practicing genocide.

Asking the ICC to issue an arrest warrant for the president of Sudan, Lt. Gen. Omar Bashir, (the first time charges have been filed in the ICC against a sitting head of state), Mr. Moreno-Ocampo charges the ruler “who controlled everything” with three counts of genocide; five counts of crimes against humanity (involving murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture and rape); and two counts of war crimes (masterminded and implemented a plan to destroy three ethnic groups in Darfur, Sudan). The prosecutor targeted Mr. Bashir’s unspeakably cruel militia, the Janjaweed, who “kill men, children, elderly, women; they subject women and girls to massive rapes. They burn and loot the villages.”

Under the rules of the ICC, victims of crimes against humanity can participate in the proceedings; and the Wall Street Journal cited a victim in the court filings (and there are more) saying: “… after [the Janjaweed] abused us, they told us that now we would have Arab babies; and if they would find any Fur [people], they would rape them again to change the color of their children.” The prosecutor, interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, added that he has evidence, including witness statements and documents, that show Gen. Bashir gave direct orders to military commanders and militia leaders (the Janjaweed), permitting them to target civilians (thereby committing war crimes).

Gen. Bashir first heard of the arrest warrant for him in a telephone call from Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohammad, his ever-faithful ambassador to the United Nations, who then told the New York Sun: “I have never seen him jubilant and strong like what I detected from the call. Don’t be surprised if he attends the annual gathering of General Assembly members in New York in September.” Why not? Would the U.N. General Assembly refuse to welcome Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who recently won a runoff election by first having his equivalent of the Janjaweed savagely beat and even murder members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change? After all, the supine United Nations will not even use the term “genocide” to describe the hallmark of Mr. Bashir’s reign in Sudan. All its pariah members are welcome.

Does the jubilant Gen. Bashir have any reason to fear being a prisoner in the dock before the International Criminal Court in The Hague? The charges in the prosecutor’s arrest warrant will first have to be confirmed by a panel of three ICC judges, and that could take a few months before the arrest warrant can actually be issued.

The ICC judges have yet to reject charges brought by its prosecutor, but precedents can be overruled. Also, the U.N. Security Council, which asked the ICC to investigate Gen. Bashir in 2005, can give the abominable general even more time to pack for a journey to The Hague. The U.N. Security Council can suspend an investigation or a prosecution for a year.

With Russia, and especially China (a continuous supplier of arms to and buyer of oil from Gen. Bashir) on the Security Council, there will be no rush to accommodate the ICC prosecutor who has already filed arrest warrants for two of Gen. Bashir’s murderous accomplices. Not having been turned over to the ICC, one of them deeply involved in the protection of the Janjaweed has been promoted by Gen. Bashir to be (I kid you not) minister of humanitarian affairs! And there was no protest from the U.N. Security Council.

Also resisting the execution of the arrest warrant are long-time international denouncers of the genocide in Darfur who fear that any attempts to actually serve the warrant will lead to horrendously savage retaliations by Gen. Bashir against already imperiled humanitarian workers in Sudan. They also fear that executing the warrant could lead to further additions to the more than 400,000 corpses of black Africans in Darfur and neighboring Chad.

“We will never cooperate with [the] ICC,” pledged Sudan’s ambassador to the United Nations, who calls Mr. Moreno-Ocampo’s request for an arrest warrant “a criminal move that will torpedo the march forward” of his nation. Sudan, after all, remains a sovereign state, a member in good standing with the United Nations, whose mandate to Mr. Bashir to admit 26,000 U.N.-African Union peacekeepers has been so obstructed that only some 9,000 are in the country, and subject to hostile fire.

Said Mr. Moreno-Ocampo about criticisms that if he persists, he will bring on even more devastation: “Some people have said that for me to intervene at this point is shocking. I say what is going on is shocking. Genocide is going on now, and it is endangering the lives of many more people. Will the world accept an ongoing genocide?” To be continued in this column. Meanwhile, the admirable human-rights champion, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, told Gen. Bashir that he must respect decisions by the ICC. “We know that it is not possible,” said Mr. Kouchner to Agence France-Presse, “to protest against its decisions.” Really?

Nat Hentoff’s column for The Washington Times appears on Mondays.



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