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ICC President: We May Ask the Security Council to Intervene in Al Bashir Case | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Laurence Blairon, the official spokesperson for the International Criminal Court [ICC] in The Hague, has said that the ICC had not issued any [official] notification to the Sudanese government with regards to the arrest warrant it had issued for Sudanese President Omar al Bashir. This comes despite the passing of one week since the original issuance of the arrest warrant. Blairon informed Asharq Al-Awsat via telephone that the ICC Registrar was currently in the process of writing the notification.

The ICC spokesperson, Laurence Blairon, declined to specify the particular timeframe for the issuance of the official notification to Sudan, but she did indicate that this would be sooner rather than later. Blairon said, “Definitely less than a month…perhaps even days.”

Blairon revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the ICC Registrar, Silvana Arbia, “was not wasting her time by beginning practical measures to implement the judges’ decision, and that she will begin by officially informing Sudan of the decision, then informing the states which are signatories of the Rome Statute which established the International Criminal Court.”

Blairon also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the Registrar had sent strict orders to the ICC press office not to discuss the timeframe or content of the notification letter to Sudan. This news contradicts reports that the ICC had already sent the official notification to Sudan, as well as to the 108 signatory countries of the Rome Statute, along with members of the UN Security Council, including USA and China, which are not members of the ICC.

Philippe Kirsch, President of the ICC, announced that the judges may ask the UN Security Council to intervene if certain countries reject the arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al Bashir. During a press conference in The Hague on his last day in office, ICC President Kirsch said, “If some states refuse to cooperate, there are provisions saying that the court will then have to resort…to the Security Council.”

Kirsch, the first President of the ICC who has held this position for 6 years added, “First of all we must look at what is going on, and how the states will react. From there we can take the decision on what action to take.” The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al Bashir on 4 March, accusing him of crimes against humanity in Darfur, which has been in the midst of civil war since 2003.

The ICC, which is the only permanent international court to specialize in war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity, has been collecting reports on Darfur since 2005, following the UN resolution. The ICC does not have a special police force [to enact its decisions] but must rely upon the capabilities of its member states to implement them. The ICC is also unable to prosecute al Bashir in absentia. A number of African and Arab states, in addition to China which is an important economic ally of Sudan, have called for the suspension of the arrest warrant against al Bashir.

Kirsch said, “The ICC acted as best as it could, and it always depends on the practical support of its members-states,” confirming that “the responsibility to make the system work belongs to states and by extension to international organizations and they have to carry out their part of the deal.” Kirsch added that the ICC founding document, the Rome Statute, did not confer immunity from prosecution to heads of state.

The Canadian President of the ICC, Philippe Kirsch added that this case has political dimensions, saying that “The court is not capable of looking at political factors. The court is not capable of looking at convenience. Its responsibility is to act as a tribunal.”

Sudan yesterday announced that it is studying ways to repeal or suspend the arrest warrant issued by the ICC against its President Omar al Bashir, which is the first indication of the country engaging with this case. Ali Sadiq, a spokesman for the Sudanese Foreign Ministry, said that Sudanese officials had taken the arrest warrants for President al Bashir to the International Court of Justice, and were asking their allies in the UN Security Council to press for its postponement. Ali Sadiq added that a number of ideas have been proposed, and that things will become clearer over the coming days.

Sadiq also added that China and Russia had notified Sudan that the Western countries which had stood firmly against it prior to the issuance of the ICC warrant may now be willing to negotiate. He also confirmed that his government would not apply for Article 16 of the Rome Statute, which is the statute that grants the Security Council the power to suspend ICC investigations. However, he also said that it would be another case completely if another country were to apply for Article 16 on Sudan’s behalf.