African Union calls for hybrid court to try Darfur genocide cases

[JURIST] The African Union (AU) [official website] on Monday called for a hybrid court of Sudanese and foreign judges to hear trials of individuals accused of war crimes in Darfur [JURIST news archive]. The AU Implementation Panel, led by former South African president Thabo Mbeki [ANC profile], renewed its request for the combined court a week after the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] issued a ruling to reconsider genocide charges against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [JURIST news archive]. The AU had issued a statement condemning the ICC decision and stressing the need for African participation [press release] in seeking justice in Sudan:


The African Union is confident that, with genuine support from the international community, the Sudanese people have the capacity to triumph over their long-standing divisions and accelerate the process of the pursuit of democracy and development. On its part the AU, which was the first to take the initiative and assume responsibility for peace and protection in Darfur, will remain actively engaged, as the crisis in Sudan is also Africa’s crisis; indeed, it profoundly affects the continent’s largest country at a critical moment in its national history, as well as its many neighbours and the continent as a whole. The African Union is convinced that the achievement of lasting peace, justice and reconciliation in Sudan requires Sudanese ownership and Africa’s leadership, with the full support of the international community.

Mbeki suggested that the hybrid court would help maintain Sudanese confidence [News24 report] in achieving justice for the people of Darfur.

Last week, the Appeals Chamber of the ICC reversed [JURIST report] a Pre-Trial Chamber decision that denied the application for an arrest warrant on genocide charges against al-Bashir. The court emphasized that the reversal was procedural in nature and declined to enter a finding of genocidal intent or to order the Pre-Trial Chamber to issue a genocide warrant for al-Bashir, as requested [text] by ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile]. The case has now been remanded back to the Pre-Trial Chamber to reconsider whether al-Bashir acted with genocidal intent. In a letter to the AU last month, Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] urged Sudan to accept ICC war crimes decisions [letter text] in addition to any combined Sudanese and foreign court. The AU High-Level Panel on Darfur first suggested a hybrid court in an October report [text, PDF] to the AU Peace and Security Council.


 

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