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African Union panel recommends cooperating with ICC Bashir arrest warrant

[JURIST] An African Union (AU) [official website] panel [meeting materials, DOC] led by former South African president Thabo Mbeki [ANC profile] recommended Friday that the AU cooperate with International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] efforts to arrest Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity [JURIST report]. The recommendation comes in stark contrast to a vote by the full AU last week not to cooperate with the ICC [JURIST report] on the arrest. Mbeki said the panel made its recommendation on the principle that those sought by international courts should be required [Reuters report] to face the charges against them. Leaders who have opposed the warrant for Bashir's arrest argue that it poses a threat [JURIST report] to Sudan's peace process.

Al-Bashir is accused of leading the systematic harassment and murder of members of the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa ethnic groups under the pretext of counter-insurgency since 2003. A controversial warrant [JURIST news archive] for his arrest had long been sought by ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile], who in July 2008 filed preliminary charges [text, PDF; JURIST report] against al-Bashir alleging genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes committed in the Darfur region in violation of Articles 6, 7, and 8 of the Rome Statute [text]. The court had originally refused to charge Bashir with genocide, but prosecutors appealed that decision [JURIST report] earlier this week.

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