Brussels, Asharq Al-Awsat- The International Criminal Court [ICC] Spokeswoman Laurence Blairon has stated to Asharq Al-Awsat the ICC cannot force the state of Qatar to arrest Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and hand him over to the court to answer charges leveled at him on war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Sudanese Province of Darfur.
She added: “Now that the court has issued its decision early this month, the next step is for us to expect President Al-Bashir to voluntarily come to The Hague, or to expect the Sudanese Government to hand him over to us.”
She noted that if President Al-Bashir continues to refuse to appear before the court or if the Sudanese Government refuses to hand him over, the judges will refer the case to the UN Security Council for the necessary measures.
The ICC spokeswoman said there is no definitive timeframe during which Al-Bashir must give himself up or during which Sudan or any other state must hand him over. Also, no definitive timeframe can be determined for the judges to take a decision to refer the case to the UN Security Council. Such action may take place in a week, month, or a year, she added.
In reply to a question as to what will happen if Al-Bashir arrives in Qatar to take part in the next Arab summit, the ICC spokeswoman said: “Qatar represents a special case because it is not a signatory of the court’s statute. On that basis, the court cannot force Qatar to arrest Al-Bashir and hand him over.”
She added: “At the same time, however, Qatar is member of the United Nations, and the international organization’s resolution on the establishment of the court obliges the member states to cooperate with the court and respect its decisions.”
She went on: “Accordingly, if the state of Qatar hands Al-Bashir over to the court, it will have cooperated with the court, in implementation of a previous decision.”
She noted: “However, if Qatar does not arrest Al-Bashir and refuses to hand him over to the court, should he arrive in Qatar to participate in the summit, the court will inform the UN Security Council of the situation. Afterward, the Security Council will take the appropriate measures vis-à-vis Qatar or any other state that refuses to cooperate with the court if Al-Bashir visits it.”
When I asked the ICC spokeswoman what would happen if the Sudanese Government handed the other two wanted persons, Ali Kushayb and Ahmad Harun, to the court, and the arrest warrant against President Al-Bashir was postponed or cancelled, she immediately interrupted my question and said: “No, never. We will not accept such an offer.” She added: “There will be no alternative to the implementation of the ICC decisions, whether regarding Al-Bashir or other wanted persons.”
On Wednesday, 4March 2009, the ICC approved the request that the prosecution presented on 14July 2008 to issue an arrest warrant against Sudanese President Al-Bashir.
It is recalled that, on 20 November 2008, the ICC public prosecutor submitted a request to the Pre-Trial Chamber I to issue an arrest warrant against three rebel leaders in Darfur for war crimes that were committed against the African Union peacekeepers in (Hasaknitah), Darfur, on 29 September 2007.
The UN Security Council referred the Darfur case to the ICC under its Resolution 1593, which it passed on 31 March 2005. On 6 June 2005, the ICC public prosecutor decided to open an investigation into this case.
The legal action that was taken against these three leaders is the third of its kind in such a case.
In the past, Pre-Trial Chamber I issued two arrest warrants against Ahmad Muhammad Harun, a former minister of state for internal affairs in the Sudanese Government and current minister of state for humanitarian affairs, and Ali Muhammad Abdul -Rahman, also known by the name of Ali Kushayb, who is leader of the Janjawid militia. The arrest warrants were issued for their alleged responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In its latest decision early this month, however, the ICC excluded charges of genocide against Al-Bashir and reduced the list of charges against him from 10 to only seven.