ABA to President Bush: Referring Crisis in Darfur to the International Criminal Court Would Help End the Atrocities
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 18, 2005 – American Bar Association President Robert J. Grey Jr. this week urged President Bush to support referring the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan to the International Criminal Court for investigation and prosecution of the individuals responsible for the crimes committed there. Calling the ICC “the most suitable forum” for such trials, Grey noted that, “It was for just such a situation as Darfur that the court was created and should be utilized.”
In a letter to President Bush, Grey applauded the United States for its “tremendous leadership” in responding to the atrocities, but urged him to permit the United Nations Security Council to refer the matter to the ICC as the best way to end the genocide there. “The ICC is the most suitable forum for trying those responsible for atrocities in Darfur,” said Grey. “The Sudanese government clearly is unable or unwilling to undertake national prosecutions and has not responded to repeated Security Council resolutions calling for justice.”
While recognizing U.S. opposition to the ICC, Grey argued that the delays associated with creating a new commission or expanding the mandate of an existing one would have serious consequences for the people of Sudan. In addition to being time-consuming and costly, he said, “thousands of people [would] continue to suffer in Darfur and evidence that may be used to convict those responsible [would be] degraded or lost. The ICC has an existing permanent infrastructure and a professional corps of investigators, lawyers, judges and other staff experienced in the investigation and adjudication of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.”
Grey further noted that the independent U.N. Commission of Inquiry created at the Bush administration’s urging to investigate reports of violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws in Darfur recently issued a report urging that, in order to help end the violence and establish peace, the matter be referred to the ICC.
“We concur with the Commission and urge you to support such a referral or, at a minimum, ensure that the United States does not stand in the way of a referral,” said Grey.
Grey also argued that the administration’s concerns about the ICC having jurisdiction over U.S. nationals “are not applicable in this case” and that the United States government could enable a referral to the Court without making an affirmative statement on support for it.
“The Security Council resolution could restrict the ICC’s mandate strictly to investigation and prosecution of Sudanese citizens (thus excluding any Americans), ICC crimes on Sudanese territory, and a time period that covers Darfur atrocities,” he said. “The resolution also could recommend only voluntary funding from U.N. member states to assist the ICC to undertake the Security Council referral.”
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