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Sunday, 5 April 2009


'I think it was unfortunate'

UN General Assembly head: ICC warrants 'racist'

Brockmann: third time - out of four - that you have something from ICC related to Africa.

UNITED NATIONS - The indictment of Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir on Darfur war crimes charges deepens the perception that international justice is 'racist," the president of the UN General Assembly said Tuesday.

"I think it was unfortunate," Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, who served as foreign minister under Nicaragua's leftist Sandinista government from 1979 to 1990, told reporters, referring to the arrest warrant issued against Beshir early this month by International Criminal Court (ICC) judges.

"It helps to deepen the perception that international justice is racist because this is the third time that you have something from the ICC and for the third time it has to do with Africa," he noted.

The Hague-based ICC on March 4 issued the warrant against Beshir for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Sudanese region of Darfur.

The ICC has also targeted Democratic Republic of Congo militia leader Thomas Lubanga, who was issued an arrest warrant for alleged war crimes involving the use of child soldiers during DRC's five-year civil war tHat ended in 2003.

And it has an outstanding arrest warrant against the shadowy chief of Uganda's rebel Lord's Resistance Army, Joseph Kony, accused of rape, mutilation and murder as well as of forcible recruitment of civilians and child soldiers.

D'Escoto said what made the ICC move "most lamentable" was that it came shortly after the African Union (AU) and the Arab League had lobbied for a one-year deferral of the Beshir indictment to "give peace a chance," referring to peace talks between Khartoum and a leading Darfur rebel group.

The Nicaraguan former priest, who was briefing the press on his recent visit to Iran, said to speak on behalf of a large number of African, Arab and other nonaligned nations which back a deferral in line with Article 16 of the Rome Statute that created the ICC.

A joint of the AU and Arab League was due to visit UN headquarters late this month to press fresh efforts to postpone the case against Beshir.

Critics say the ICC warrant singles out weak states like Sudan, while taking a hypocritical stance towards countries like the US and Israel by ignoring worse atrocities committed by them, and by not charging American and Israeli officials with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Darfur conflict erupted in February 2003, when rebels took up arms against the government in Khartoum and its allies.

Over the last six years, the rebels have fractured into multiple movements, fraying rebel groups, banditry, flip-flopping militias and the war has widened into overlapping tribal conflicts.

The United Nations says up to 300,000 people have died from the combined effects of war, famine and disease and more than 2.2 million fled their homes.

Many of the rebels enjoy direct and indirect foreign support that helped fuel the conflict, with some critics pointing the finger at France, which has a military presence in neighbouring Chad – also accused of arming the Sudanese rebels. France had been accused of involvement in the genocide in Rwanda, but Paris denied responsibility, conceding only that ‘political’ errors were made

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