Grappling with Sudan

By all accounts, the International Criminal Court isn’t doing all that well when it comes to Sudan.

In fact, right now, it looks like no one they are after is ever going to face justice.

Their mistake was probably going after the number one king-pin Omar al-Bashir. In just a few years, Khartoum switched from lukewarm ambivalence towards the court to open hostility.

After all, it’s one thing to go after Ahmed Haround and Ali Kushayb – two Darfuris wanted for war crimes, but little spoken of. Quite another to go after the man at the top. That’s when things started to get ugly.

Last week, the court suffered another setback as far as Sudan goes. The case against Bahr Idriss Abu Garda, a Darfuri rebel who had voluntarily given himself over to the ICC and therefore was the Sudanese indictee most likely to come to trial, was thrown out. The judges cited a lack of evidence as the reason. A colleague of mine wrote an excellent opinion piece on the decision.

Although the ICC put a brave face on things – this proves that justice at the ICC works and is impartial, surely? – the decision clearly is a deep embarrasment to the court.

What went wrong and why was the ICC – which eats up so much taxpayer’s money each year, seemingly without producing anything – incapable of coming up with evidence that would actually stick? (Perhaps some clue lies in a job ad that I saw posted for a glorified proof-reader, who would take home €75,000, tax free; I was told I should apply, but, since it made me want to vomit, I decided not to – health much more important).

Seriously, though, how can the ICC, with all the wonderful resources at its disposal, failed to have come up with anything to pin on Abu Garda. Did it, indeed, go after the wrong man, simply because he was an eager target. After all, it was him that voluntarily decided to come to the court – to clear his name – rather than the ICC having to go after him. And, let’s face it, the ICC doesn’t have a great record in going after these crims. You might like to check out the previous entry I wrote about Abu Garda.

So, in any case, there remains very little chance that the ICC will ever bring anyone in Sudan to justice. It is unthinkable they’d ever be able to lay a hand on Bashir, and the other two indictees are pretty closely protected these days.

Let’s hope, then, that local pursuit of justice for victims of crimes in Darfur meets with more success. But somehow I doubt it. Watch this space. I am looking into an African Union report at the moment, which suggests – ach-hem – that Sudan can actually prosecute its own war criminals.

5 Ahmed Haroun     Fugitive
Ali Kushayb     Fugitive
Omar al-Bashir     Fugitive
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