[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said Wednesday that the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] needs more vocal support [HRW press release] from its member countries in a memorandum [text, PDF] sent to member governments in advance of their annual meeting [press release]. Citing recent efforts to convince the UN Security Council [official website] to suspend the case against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], HRW counsel Elizabeth Evenson said that the backing of member countries is necessary to insulate the ICC: "With the courts independence and integrity at risk, ICC member states should speak out forcefully to promote the ICCs mission. They should strongly defend the ICCs independence from political interference." Sudan, the African Union [official website], the League of Arab States [official website, in Arabic], the Organization of the Islamic Conference [official website], and others have objected [JURIST archive] to the ICC's potential issuance of an arrest warrant [JURIST report] for Bashir. On Wednesday, Bashir declared a ceasefire [AFP report] to hostilities in Darfur and called for disarming militias. The move was dismissed by the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) [advocacy website] as "rhetoric" designed to allay the ICC charges. AP has more.
The Sudanese government has already rejected the ICC's jurisdiction and has refused to surrender two previously-named war crimes suspects [JURIST report]. Hundreds of thousands of people have allegedly been killed in Darfur by Sudanese military and janjaweed [Slate backgrounder] militia forces. The Security Council has repeatedly called on Sudan to comply with the ICC investigation [JURIST report], but Sudan has refused to do so, calling ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo a "terrorist" [JURIST report] and suggesting that he should be removed from office.