From the State Department:
The February 12, 2009 daily press briefing had the following on Darfur:
QUESTION: Do you have any comment on – the ICC judges have apparently decided to press ahead with the Bashir warrant.
MR. WOOD: Let’s see. I’ve seen the reports, but I don’t think there’s been any official announcement of that. But our policy has been from the beginning that those who commit atrocities need to be held accountable. And – but, you know, that’s basically all I have to say on that.
QUESTION: In a broader sense, though, since you have had a relatively – not relatively – you have a arm’s length, at least, distance from the ICC, do you support the work that it’s doing related to Darfur and the situation in Sudan?
MR. WOOD: Certainly. As I said, Matt, you know, we want to see those who commit atrocities, who are responsible for atrocities taking place anywhere around the world, held accountable.
QUESTION: By the ICC, or would you prefer to see it done by some other —
MR. WOOD: Well, the ICC is undertaking a challenging effort. And we’re very – we’ve been very concerned about human rights abuses and atrocities that have taken place in Darfur. And as I’ve mentioned to you, I believe, in a previous briefing, that we’re taking a look at whether or not we are going to engage the ICC, but that review has not been completed. And as I said —
QUESTION: That’s review number what, 1,335?
MR. WOOD: You’re the only one I know keeping count. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: When do you say that you’re looking at, you know, how to engage the ICC? What does that mean? I mean, are you looking at whether to join the ICC?
MR. WOOD: Well, overall –
QUESTION: Are you looking at becoming a fully fledged member or just to, you know, write them —
MR. WOOD: We’ll have to see how the review – the outcome of the review. I just can’t give you that kind of an answer at this point.
QUESTION: Yes, but are you considering actively becoming a member of the ICC? Is it something that you’re looking at closely within your review?
MR. WOOD: What I’ve said is that we are conducting a review, and you can check with Matt for the actual number of reviews.
QUESTION: Are you doing anything to – specifically, is the United States doing anything specifically to try to prepare in some way for whatever escalated violence might occur as a result of his arrest?
MR. WOOD: Well, again, we’re speculating because there hasn’t been an announcement yet. But look, we have been very supportive of the UN and AU efforts in Darfur. And we’re going to continue to try to provide as much support as we can to the people of Darfur who have suffered over the years tremendously. And we will work with the United Nations, with the African Union to see what more we can do to help. But again, I don’t want to get ahead of any of these reports in terms of a possible indictment. I don’t want to do that yet.
QUESTION: In terms of support, are you providing evidence to the ICC? Do you have any?
MR. WOOD: Well, look, I’m not aware. I have not been involved with this at all. What I can tell you is that, you know, the fact that there have been these atrocities committed in Darfur has been a great concern to the United States over the years. And you know, where we can be supportive, we’ve tried to be. But again, at this point, we are not, as you know, party to their own statute. But there is a review underway with regard to the ICC. And I don’t have anything further on that until we’ve completed that review.
QUESTION: Okay. When you say we have been supportive, do you mean that when they have requested information, that you have given it to them? We’ve been round and round the mulberry bush on this one, but —
MR. WOOD: And I’m not going to go around it again, so I think I’ll just stick with what I’ve said.
QUESTION: So, in – but in terms of saying you’ve been supportive, does that mean that if they’ve asked you for documents, you’ve handed them over in order to be supportive to the process or —
MR. WOOD: Well, look, we are – we have been supportive to a number of investigations that have taken place around the world with regard to atrocities being committed. And so where we can provide support, we do.
From the United Nations:
NO DECISION TAKEN ON ISSUANCE OF ARREST WARRANT FOR SUDANESE PRESIDENT
- The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a press release, which says that no arrest warrant has been issued by the ICC against President Omar Al Bashir of Sudan.
- The ICC press release also says that no decision has yet been taken by the judges of Pre-Trial Chamber I concerning the Prosecutor’s application of 14 July 2008 for the issuance of such a warrant.
- Finally, the ICC says that the decision will be made public once it is reached by the normal way of a press release and publication on the Court’s website.
- Asked about a recent meeting between the Secretary-General and ICC President Philippe Kirsch, the Spokeswoman said it was a courtesy call in which they discussed issues relating to the ICC. She said, contrary to reports, that no sealed envelope of names regarding Darfur had been transmitted to the Secretary-General. She added, in response to further questions, that Kirsch had cancelled a press appearance due to scheduling problems.
- Asked how the Secretary-General would receive information about Bashir’s case, Montas stressed that the Court is an independent body and does not need to inform the Secretary-General of the decisions it takes. In other cases, she noted, it has not done so.
- Asked whether the Secretary-General was informed that the ICC would come to a decision on President Bashir on 20 February, Montas said that he had not received such information.
- Asked whether the Secretary-General is concerned about how an ICC decision would affect the work of UN peacekeepers in Sudan, the Spokeswoman recalled that the Secretary-General, in his press conference on Tuesday, had noted that he had discussed the issue with President Bashir in their recent meeting in Addis Ababa. She later added that President Bashir did commit to the Secretary General, during that meeting, that in the event of a ruling, the safety and security of UN staff in Sudan would be respected. Although the Secretary-General is concerned, she added, he has stressed that the ICC makes its decisions as an independent body.
- The Spokeswoman declined to comment on reports that the discussion between the Sudanese President and the Secretary-General had been “stormy”, beyond noting the Secretary-General’s own description of that meeting in his recent press remarks.