Conflict & Justice

Sudan's ambassador to the United Nations talks about Darfur war crime charges

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Sudan is responding to reports that the International Criminal Court will issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur. Guest: His Excellency Abdelmahmood Abdelhaleem, Sudanese ambassador to the United Nations.

Producer's Notes:
Sudan's response to the indictment of President Omar al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and genocide was swift and predictable.

Joining The Takeaway on Monday morning, Sudan's ambassador to the United Nations, Abdelmahmood Abdelhaleem, called the ruling a ?crazy and irresponsible act,? that will have ?negative fallout? on the thorny political situation in Sudan.

The question on every mind is whether the International Criminal Court's ruling will affect Darfur for better or worse.

I spent nearly three years covering Darfur?largely from the capital Khartoum, as journalists' travels were severely restricted by the authorities. But I was in south Darfur in April 2007 when the ICC indicted two mid-level Sudanese officials, Ali Kushayb and Ahmed Harun, on charges of war crimes. Rather than being pleased with those indictments, Darfuris were outraged that President al-Bashir had not also be named.

Now al-Bashir has joined the ranks of the accused.

The ICC decision is largely symbolic: The court does not have its own police force to track down suspects; There is no chance that Sudan will hand al-Bashir over to the court, and it may be months before the ICC's Pre-Trial Chamber decides whether to issue an arrest warrant.

It is rare that Sudan's 2.5 million displaced people get what they want. Today's announcement is a kind of half-justice, a confirmation of what many Darfuris have long believed true?that Sudan's government at the highest level is implicated in crimes of murder, rape and torture. That indictment won't bring back the dead and it won't return the living to their villages and homes.

Ambassador Abdelhaleem is likely right that the ICC decision will have a negative affect on the peace process in Darfur. But the displaced, entrenched in squalid camps where they have waited years for reprieve from ongoing, anarchic violence, might ask, ?What peace process??

? Noel King

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