This House believes that Arab states should hand over the Sudanese president to the International Criminal Court
Monday April 27 2009
MOTION PASSED by 55% to 45%
An audience at the Doha Debates has defied the governments of the Arab League and told them to send Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for trial at the International Criminal Court.
A 350-strong audience voted 55 to 45 percent in favour of a motion: 'This House believes Arab states should hand over the Sudanese President to the International Criminal Court'.
The vote came just three weeks after the Arab League rejected the ICC's arrest warrant, issued on March 4, against al-Bashir for "international war crimes" and "crimes against humanity".
Al-Bashir is viewed in the West as a prime architect of the massive human rights violations perpetrated in the Darfur region of Sudan, resulting in at least 200,000, and possibly as many as 400,000 deaths and millions of refugees and displaced persons.
Speaking for the motion Ahmed Hussain Adam, spokesman for the Justice and Equality Movement, one of Sudan's main rebel groups in Darfur, said the indictment and trial of al-Bashir was essential for the region and for the world.
"It is the only way we can combat human rights violations and send a strong message around the world. It is good for our people and the Arab world because we cannot allow these people to kill us in the name of sovereignty."
Hani Shukrallah, co-Editor and columnist for the Egyptian daily Al-Shorouk, who also supported the motion, said the Arab world "as a whole is obliged to atone for the shame of having stood by the massacres of Darfur.
"I see no reason why we should be outraged by Israel and not show the same outrage over crimes by Arabs against fellow Arabs."
He said Arab nations could not accuse the West of double standards "when we have double standards in our own backyard".
Ghazi Salahuddin Atabani, a Sudanese politician and adviser to President al-Bashir, was adamant that the evidence against the President was "flimsy" and that the ICC was not fit to try him.
""The ICC is not equipped or impartial enough to indict anyone for events in Darfur." He said both Sudan and America, along with several other nations, believed the ICC was "too politicised" and that evidence against al-Bashir was not strong enough.
Roland Marchal, senior research fellow at the National Centre for Scientific Research in Paris, echoed Atabani in questioning the authority of the ICC and its ability to offer an impartial trial.
"We have got to get back to basics. If we don't get the legitimacy for international justice, there is no justice. It is not proven that Bashir is to blame and the complexity of events need careful investigation.
"We are not talking about an isolated dictator here. The actions of the ICC may have consequences far beyond Darfur and this is what we need to consider." He warned that the actions of the ICC were splitting the "the humanitarian world".