Dilemma for Washington on Darfur Atrocities
By Guy Dinmore in Washington and Nikki Tait in London
The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday launched an investigation into suspected war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region, a development likely to present problems for the Bush administration as it opposes the court's existence and maintains close intelligence links with the Khartoum government.
The US had no immediate reaction to the ICC statement, and it is not clear whether it will co-operate with requests for help. Sudan has previously refused to co-operate. US legislation blocks co-operation with the court, but a senior State Department official has said that requests could be considered on a case-by-case basis.
John Bolton, whose confirmation as the next US envoy to the UN has been held up in the Senate, has spearheaded Washington's efforts against the court.
At the same time, according to officials, the US maintains a close relationship with Sudanese officials and intelligence officers believed to be responsible for the ethnic cleansing and village burning in Darfur. US officials say Sudan is a valuable partner in the “global war on terror”. Washington also fears Khartoum's isolation would jeopardise the peace deal ending the decades-old north-south conflict.
Heather Hamilton, of Citizens for Global Solutions, which supports the ICC, said there was no sign the US would co-operate with the court. The US could become a haven for suspected war criminals as it would resist extradition of suspects, she added.
Very interesting position Bush is in now. The world is finally acting to provide justice through legal means and the US must decide whether to oppose that on ideological (and practical War on Terror) grounds. It's worth noting, the US is already a haven for war crimes suspects, provided they be of the right-wing political mold (note the conviction of a GOP friendly Cambodian last week on terorism charges... or Emmanual Constance, Haitian death squad leader, or countless Central American killers, and of course our friend Cuban terrorist Luis Posada Carilles)