[JURIST] Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] on Monday accused [press release] the Sudanese government of using a special prosecutor [JURIST report] as "window dressing" to thwart an International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation of war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region [JURIST news archive]. ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo applied for an arrest warrant [JURIST report] in July for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] alleging genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, but such ICC prosecution is permitted [Rome Statute Article 17 text] only when a national court is "unwilling or unable genuinely to carry out the investigation or prosecution." In a move seen largely as a reaction to a potential ICC investigation, Sudan appointed its own special prosecutor in August to investigate and try war crimes suspects, including militia commander Ali Kushayb [TrialWatch profile; ICC arrest warrant, PDF]. HRW said that Sudanese prosecution "hold[s] little promise of bringing justice to victims" and argued that an ICC investigation is precluded under Article 17 only when national courts "charge the same person with the same crimes as those brought before the ICC," which is impossible given the limitations of Sudanese law. The Sudanese criminal code does not address crimes against humanity and genocide, does not recognize command responsibility for military officer prosecutions, contains many obstacles to sex crime prosecution, and provides immunity for members of the armed forces, militias and the police. AFP has more.
An ICC pretrial chamber is considering whether to grant the controversial arrest warrant [JURIST report] for al-Bashir and has requested [court order, PDF; JURIST report] that Moreno-Ocampo submit additional materials in support of the application. Earlier this month, Sudan Justice Minister Abdel-Basit Sabdarat said the Sudanese special prosecutor has almost completed reports [JURIST report] on some crimes in the region, though a time frame for trials has not been established. HRW has previously accused Sudan of failing to adequately combat war crimes [JURIST report], stating in 2006 that the Special Criminal Court on the Events in Darfur prosecuted petty offenses while neglecting to address the widespread and ongoing human rights abuses.