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ICC's Ocampo Dismisses Sudan's Process, Sudan Dismisses Ocampo, of Moral Damages

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, August 11 -- Less than a week after Sudan belatedly named a special prosecutor for Darfur, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court called this no more than a cover-up. While that may be true, Luis Moreno-Ocampo's fast dismissal raises the question of who decides when a nation's justice system is credible. 

  When Inner City Press asked Moreno-Ocampo why all his cases have been in Africa, he said he had considered Colombia, but found their justice system credible. Now there are calls, how ever cynical one may view them, to refer the president of Georgia to the ICC in The Hague, for what Russia alleges is genocide in South Ossetia. One imagines that Moreno-Ocampo would deemed Georgia's legal system credible. But again, who decides?

  On Monday at UN headquarters, Inner City Press asked Sudan's Ambassador Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem Mohamed about Moreno-Ocampo's comments. "We have been saying, that man is not credible," he answered. "He wants to beforehand judge. Every day he is putting oil on fire. We will hold him responsible for the very irresponsible statements he makes. You can quote me."

Moreno-Ocampo, moral damages not shown

  Moreno-Ocampo on Monday was in Senegal, apparently trying to lobby President Wade to back off his public position that the legal process against Al Bashir should be frozen.  In 2005 as Darfur was referred to the ICC by the UN Security Council, Moreno-Ocampo was in Cape Town, taking a female journalist's car keys and saying, to get them you must sleep with me, as found by an International Labor Organization panel which found Moreno-Ocampo engaged in retaliation and ordered the payment of moral damages. 

  Even some who generally support holding leaders personally accountable for deaths now are pointed not only to Article 16 of the ICC's Rome Statute, which provides for freezing of indictments, but also to Article 42.3, which requires that "the Prosecutor and the Deputy Prosecutors shall be persons of high moral character." Moreno-Ocampo may be lobbying on this front as well, in Senegal and elsewhere.

  The situation is that those who support the ICC feel compelled to support or cover up for Moreno-Ocampo, feeling that he is weakened, the Court is weakened. But impunity at the ICC undermines it. It is possible, perhaps even necessary, for those who support international criminal law to not make excuses for Moreno-Ocampo.

Moreno-Ocampo's fast dismissal stands in contrast to the response gleened from Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson on August 6, 2008 --

Inner City Press: the Government in Khartoum has now appointed, as had been requested as part of this AU plan, has appointed a Special Prosecutor for the situation in Darfur.  Does the UN think that’s a positive step?

Spokesperson:  Well, let's see what's happening.  Every move made by a national Government, we cannot give an opinion on every single move made by that.  Of course it is a positive step.

Inner City Press: The reason I ask is because it's also reported that Al-Arabiya is reporting that, quoting UN sources, that Ban Ki-moon prefers freezing any arrest warrant against President [Omar] al-Bashir.  So, I'm wondering, is that not true?

Spokesperson:  Well, Al-Arabiya, I guess, has its sources.  I cannot comment on that.

Watch this site. And this (on South Ossetia), and this --


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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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