Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Genocide Continues

I can hardly dive through the information and fend off the frustration at the lack of action in Darfur but it seems when ruling on Bashir comes through change will come swiftly to end the Genocide and arrest their corrupt leader. Also, President Elect Barack Obama has named Susan Rice as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. and has made it a cabinet position signaling his desire to tackle these issues. Rice has certainly been an advocate for Action in Darfur and brings to the U.N. job a career devotion to African affairs. But meantime, Genocide continues at alarming rate while the world stands silent. - JW

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – Sudan's government is still supporting genocide in Darfur, including through rape and holding up humanitarian aid, the International Criminal Court prosecutor said Wednesday.

"Genocide continues," Luis Moreno-Ocampo told the UN Security Council, accusing Sudan of refusing to cooperate with the court.

"Rapes in and around the (refugee) camps continue. Humanitarian assistance is still hindered. More than 5,000 displaced persons die each month," he said.

Moreno-Ocampo urged the 15 Security Council member nations to be prepared for the possibility of an ICC-issued warrant for the arrest of Sudan's President Omar al-Beshir.

In July Moreno-Ocampo asked the ICC for an arrest warrant for Beshir on 10 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

A panel of judges is reviewing the evidence to determine whether there are reasonable grounds to try Beshir. It would be the court's first indictment of a sitting head of state.

"The judges will rule shortly on this application," Moreno-Ocampo said. "It is time to be prepared for their ruling."

Moreno-Ocampo later told reporters that it is "crucial that the Security Council is prepared to ensure the implementation" of the ICC's decision.

A decision on the warrant could be made next month, he said.

Moreno-Ocampo claims that Beshir has personally instructed his forces to wipe out three ethnic groups in the western Darfur region, where conflict has been raging since 2003 when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated regime.

UN officials estimate that up to 300,000 people have died in the Sudan conflict and 2.7 million have been forced to flee their homes. Khartoum claims only 10,000 have died.

Some nations friendly to Sudan, including China, believe that a warrant for Beshir's arrest would only make things worse.

The African Union (AU) and the Organization of the Islamic Conference have called for a one-year suspension of the process, citing article 16 of the ICC's founding Rome statutes.

In such a case the Security Council would need to pass a resolution postponing all ICC investigations of Beshir for 12 months.

Western nations oppose such a move, and to date no country has formally called for the council to invoke article 16.

In his statement, Moreno-Ocampo also lashed Khartoum for failing to hand over two Sudanese charged with crimes against humanity in Darfur.

In May 2007, the court issued arrest warrants for Sudan's minister of humanitarian affairs Ahmed Haroun, and pro-government Janjaweed militia leader Ali Kosheib.

"Rumors of an investigation of Ali Kosheib have not materialized to this day," Moreno-Ocampo said.

Council member diplomats called on Sudan to hand over the accused, with France's UN Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert saying Sudan was under "obligation to cooperate" with the ICC.

"The dispute by the government of Sudan contesting both the authority of the Security Council and the court's competence is unacceptable," Ripert said.

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