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China warns ICC action in Darfur would be 'disastrous'

[JURIST] The Chinese government on Wednesday warned that pressing war crimes charges against Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] in the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] would have "disastrous" consequences on the implementation of a peace process in Darfur [JURIST archive]. Citing fears that an indictment would limit Bashir's legitimacy in negotiations and that Sudan may evict UN peacekeepers in retaliation, Liu Guijin, the Chinese Special Representative on the Darfur Issue, has been meeting with other members [Reuters report] of the UN Security Council [official website] to garner support for an Article 16 [text, PDF] resolution to delay the prosecution for at least a year. China said it had no plans to propose the postponement of the trial, saying instead that a motion from one of the Security Council's African members would be more appropriate. Rights groups, including Human Rights Watch (HRW) [official website] and the Save Darfur Coalition, have alleged [HRW report; Save Darfur backgrounder] that China's reluctance to pursue prosecution is motivated by their economic interests in Sudan.

ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [offical profile] applied for an arrest warrant for Bashir [JURIST report] in July, charging him with genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The warrant was condemned [JURIST report] by the Arab League [official website, in Arabic] and criticized [JURIST report] by South African President Thabo Mbeki [official profile]. In December, ICC judges gave Moreno-Ocampo until January 26 to provide supplemental information about a September 2007 attack [BBC report] on an African Union [official website] base in Haskanita. The events at the ICC were preceded by a Security Council statement in June urging Sudan to work with the ICC [JURIST report] to "put an end to impunity for the crimes committed in Darfur." Sudan is not a party to the ICC, but must cooperate to fulfill its obligations under Council Resolution 1593 [text], which established jurisdiction over the Darfur situation. Hundreds of thousands of people have allegedly been killed in Darfur by Sudanese military and janjaweed [Slate backgrounder] militia forces.

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