< /head > Colorado Coalition for Human Rights: Darfur and the ICC

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Darfur and the ICC

From the New York Times Magazine, an article about building a case for the ICC against the perpetrators of Darfur. From the article:

Last year the United Nations Security Council referred the Darfur file to the International Criminal Court. And now the horrors of Darfur have become the preoccupation of an extraordinary international team of investigators in a plain and quiet Dutch town. They have no army, but they want to ensure that out of this history — this slow-motion genocide — they can wrest some justice.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo is the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. A veteran Argentine lawyer in his 50's, he has a short, graying beard and Groucho Marx eyebrows that are almost always in motion — excited, alarmed, disappointed. Moreno-Ocampo knows how difficult his position is. "I'm a stateless prosecutor — I have 100 states under my jurisdiction and zero policemen," he said when I visited him in The Hague in January. But he does not see his court as a token body. "No. No! Wrong!" he said, swinging his arms one Saturday afternoon as we strolled by The Hague's medieval prison. He recounted how he had explained the court to his 13-year-old son: "My son is studying the Spanish conquerors in Latin America. Yesterday he says to me, 'They killed 90 percent of the Indians, so today you'd put them in jail?' I said: 'Yes. Exactly. What happened to the native populations in the U.S. and Latin America could not happen today with the I.C.C. Absolutely. Absolutely. We are evolving. Humanity is not just sitting. There is a new concept. The history of human beings is war and violence; now we're saying this institution is here to prevent crimes against humanity."'
The International Criminal Court was created by the Rome Statute in 1998 and began work in 2003 with two goals — to prevent crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes; and to prosecute them. Of the two, prevention is what fires Moreno-Ocampo's ambition; it is what excites his imagination and intellect and fuels his 18-hour workdays, far away from his family, his horses and his farm in Argentina. It's not that he thinks the court can protect the villagers now being killed and maimed and raped in Darfur; his investigation into war crimes there will take years. What he is convinced of is that the prospect of prosecuting war criminals in Darfur and elsewhere will deter others from committing horrific crimes. Genocides "are planned," he told me. "They are not passion crimes. These people think in cost." The I.C.C. is intended to raise the cost. Moreno-Ocampo holds up Carlos Castaño, one of Colombia's top paramilitary commanders, as an example of the court's potential reach. After Colombia ratified the I.C.C. treaty, Castaño laid down his weapons because, according to his brother, he realized that he might become vulnerable to I.C.C. prosecution.

Click here to read the article.

--Tom Hayes


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