Thursday, March 31, 2005

Good News for Darfur

The US is going to withdraw its block to the creation of a war crimes tribunal run by the International Criminal Court. After months and months of genocide that has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, hopefully relief (justice as well as food) will soon be in Darfur.

U.S. Drops Objection to Sudan Trial

By GEORGE GEDDA, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - The United States is dropping its objections to use of the U.N.'s International Criminal Court to try Sudanese responsible for an ethnic cleansing campaign in the Darfur region that has killed tens of thousands of people and uprooted more than 2 million, administration officials said Wednesday night.

The administration had preferred that an African court try the case but agreed to a compromise during daylong discussions at the United Nations on Wednesday.

The United States has strongly opposed the ICC on grounds that American service members or civilians serving overseas could be subject to politically motivated or frivolous prosecutions.

In return for its concession, the United States received assurances that Americans deployed in Sudan, in whatever capacity, would not be subject to ICC prosecutions, the officials told The Associated Press. They asked not to be identified because the decision has not been officially announced.

The decision could raise hackles among conservatives for whom the ICC is an unaccountable body that cannot be trusted to the right thing. The 97 countries that have ratified the 1998 Rome Treaty establishing the court maintain that there are sufficient safeguards built into the process to prevent unwarranted prosecutions.

The administration agreed to a compromise after concluding that opposition to the U.S. stand was too strong, particularly among Europeans, who have been united in support of the ICC, which is based in The Hague, Netherlands, as the trial venue.

Concerned about a possible U.S. veto, France on Wednesday delayed a U.N. Security Council vote on a resolution to authorize an ICC prosecution.

After U.S. officials said the Bush administration was dropping its objections, France's U.N. Mission said it expects the council to vote on the resolution on Thursday, probably in the afternoon.

The western Sudanese region of Darfur has been the scene of perhaps the world's worst humanitarian crisis. The widespread death and destruction has been the result of a brutal counterinsurgency campaign led by government-support Arab militias against black African farmers. The conflict began in February 2003.

(Full Story)

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