Obama signals war crime tribunal support

Feb. 5, 2009 at 12:10 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama indicated he supports proceeding with a war crimes indictment against the leader of Sudan and the international court issuing it.

Obama's view of the International Criminal Court is warmer than that of his predecessor, President George Bush, who refused to join the international body, The Washington Times reported Thursday.

"We support the ICC and its pursuit of those who've perpetrated war crimes," said Ben Chang, a spokesman for national security adviser James Jones. "We see no reason to support deferral" of the indictment against Sudanese President Omar Bashir.

Obama supports an arrest warrant -- which could be executed in days -- despite concerns that pursuing charges against Bashir could provoke his retaliation against humanitarian groups and plunge Sudan further into deadly chaos.

"We are worried that an indictment might lead to violence and are taking every step possible to try to mitigate against that risk," said Sam Worthington, president of InterAction, a coalition of 175 non-governmental organizations working in developing nations.

The aid community, Worthington told the Times, is "the easiest target."

The Obama administration indicated it is aware of possible violent backlash if a warrant is issued for Bashir's arrest. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said the Sudanese bombing of rebel groups in a Darfuri town was in "anticipation of an arrest warrant," and called on Bashir to stop the bombing and permit a joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force into the area.

"The onus is on the government to halt all aerial bombardment, to allow (peacekeepers) to have complete freedom of movement, and to ... effectively carry out its mandate to protect civilians," she said.

Topics: Barack Obama
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