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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

UN SG Ban urges Bashir to comply with possible ICC indictment
Caitlin Price at 11:58 AM ET

[JURIST] Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] must cooperate with any indictment or decision [press conference transcript] the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] may issue against him, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon [official website] said Tuesday. On Monday, Ban had a rare meeting with Bashir at a UN-African Union summit [UN News Centre report], where Ban urged Bashir to heed any ICC decisions and protect the 20,000 UN peacekeepers located throughout Sudan from public backlash. Speaking at a press conference in New York on Tuesday, Ban said:

Whatever the circumstances or decisions of the ICC may be, it will be very important for President Bashir and the Sudanese Government to react very responsibly and ensure the safety and security of the United Nations peacekeepers, and protect the human rights of all the population there, and also faithfully implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. And he should fully cooperate with whatever decisions that the ICC makes. This is a very important fundamental principle that he should take.
ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] has sought an arrest warrant [JURIST report] for Bashir on charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur, and the ICC is expected to decide whether to issue the warrant as early as this month.

Last week, Sudan and the African Union reissued a request to the UN Security Council [JURIST report] to delay for one year any ICC indictment for Bashir. Under Article 16 of the Rome Statute [text], the UN may pass a resolution that defers a prosecution in the ICC for 12 months. The African Union fears that an indictment would pose a threat to the peace process [JURIST report] in the Sudan. Ban has previously expressed concern that an arrest warrant for Bashir would create an unfavorable Sudanese reaction, with his latest report [text; UN News Centre report] stating a fear that the Sudanese government "may redefine its relationship with UNMIS (the UN Mission in Sudan that is mainly concerned with helping to enforce the CPA) should an arrest warrant be issued against President al-Bashir." A Security Council resolution staying the ICC's indictment would require a majority of nine votes and the concurring votes of all five permanent members.

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