Court urges arrest of war crimes suspects

AP News
Posted: Oct 29, 2010 12:01 AM
Court urges arrest of war crimes suspects

The president of the International Criminal Court urged the international community on Thursday to intensify efforts to arrest eight people sought for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide _ including Sudan's president and four commanders of the Lord's Resistance Army.

Judge Sang-Hyun Song told the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday that the failure to arrest these men is "deeply troubling" and is having "a devastating effect" on victims and communities affected by the crimes.

The International Criminal Court, or ICC, has no police force and is "completely reliant" on member states to enforce its orders, he said.

"If states do not provide the cooperation necessary for the court's functioning in accordance with their legal obligations, the ICC will not be able to fulfill its mandate and impunity will continue to flourish," Song warned.

The judge cited Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir's recent visits to Chad and Kenya _ which are parties to the Rome Statute that established the court _ and the failure of both governments to arrest him despite outstanding warrants for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur.

Last month, the African Union asked the Security Council to delay al-Bashir's prosecution for a year because a trial would interfere with efforts to end the seven-year conflict in western Darfur which has left up to 300,000 people dead and forced 2.7 million to flee their homes, according to U.N. figures.

Judge Song backed the referral of the failure of Kenya and Chad to arrest al-Bashir, which is required under the statute, to both the U.N. Security Council and the court's Assembly of States Parties which includes all 114 countries.

He also lamented Sudan's failure to arrest South Kordofan Gov. Ahmed Harun and militia leader Ali Kushayb who were accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity in 2007.

The court's pretrial chamber has referred Sudan's noncompliance with its obligation to cooperate with the court to the Security Council in May, Song said.

The judge said warrants for the arrest of four alleged commanders of Uganda's notorious Lord's Resistance Army, which has waged a vicious two-decade insurgency, were issued five years ago alleging war crimes and crimes against humanity. Among those being sought is rebel leader Joseph Kony.

"I urge the international community to intensify its efforts to bring these persons to justice," Song said.

He also criticized the failure to arrest Congolese warlord, Bosco Ntaganda, sought by the court for war crimes, who is reported to be in Goma in eastern Congo, "allegedly contributing to ongoing crimes."

"This arrest warrant must be executed and I call on all relevant actors to cooperate to that effect," Song said.