‘Cut off aid to states helping Bashir’

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IOL pic apr19 sudan bashir speech Reuters Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Photo: Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

United Nations - Aid should be cut off to states that help Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir evade arrest for war crimes to convince them to hand him over to the International Criminal Court if he visits those countries, prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo said on Monday.

The ICC indicted Bashir in 2009 and has also issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese Defense Minister Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein for war crimes in the western Darfur region.

Bashir's government in Khartoum has dismissed the charges as politically motivated and baseless.

Ocampo, who finishes his term this month at court based in The Hague, said it was time to get creative about trying to arrest Bashir.

“Stopping the assistance to those who help Bashir will work and it's not happening,” Ocampo told an event in New York hosted by the groups United to End Genocide and the Coalition for the International Criminal Court.

“Stop all the money to them and they will arrest Bashir, it's simple,” he said.

A US House of Representatives committee last week voted to cut off economic aid to any country that hosts Bashir, but the provision is not yet law, and could change as foreign aid legislation moves through Congress this year.

In the past year and a half, Bashir has visited many countries including Ethiopia, China, Egypt, Chad, Malawi, Qatar, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, some US lawmakers said.

Ocampo is due to brief the UN Security Council on Tuesday about the Sudan case and urged opponents of Bashir's government to visit the United Nations.

“They (the UN Security Council) try to imagine that nothing happens in Darfur today. It's important you are there reminding them that there's ongoing genocide,” Ocampo said.

“The issues are not shooting so many people now because there are no more people in the villages, they are displaced. But the new weapons of the genocide - starvation and rape - are working, and fear, are working very well,” he said.

Violence in Darfur, where the United Nations and the African Union maintain a large joint peacekeeping operation, has subsided since its peak in 2003 and 2004, but rebel and tribal fighting has continued.

Khartoum mobilized troops and allied Arab tribes to quell the rebellion, unleashing a wave of violence that the United Nations and other observers estimate may have killed as many as 300 000 people. Khartoum puts the death toll at 10 000.

“The issue is when will we stop Bashir? How many people will die? How many people will die of starvation? How many girls will be raped?” Ocampo said.

“Nothing indicates that the genocide is finished in Darfur, but because we don't talk people like to imagine it's finished.”

Publicly reviled as a war criminal by campaigning Hollywood stars like Angelina Jolie and George Clooney, Bashir steadfastly rejects the charge that he is responsible for atrocities allegedly committed against local tribes by the Sudanese army and allied Janjaweed militia.

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor was jailed by the International Criminal Court for 50 years last week for helping rebels in Sierra Leone commit what a court in The Hague called some of the worst war crimes in history.

Taylor, 64, was the first head of state convicted by an international court since the trials of Nazis after World War Two, and the sentence set a precedent for the emerging system of international justice.

The court will soon start the trial of Ivory Coast's ex-president, Laurent Gbagbo. - Reuters


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