Saturday, 7 November 2009


Turkey urged to comply with international court verdict

Thursday, November 5, 2009
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
As Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir travels to Istanbul for a conference, human rights groups are angry with Turkey’s refusal to plan any arrest of the leader, who is accused of war crimes in Darfur. Because Turkey is a part of the United Nations, it has an indirect responsibility to fulfill the demands of the International Criminal Court, Amnesty International says
Controversial Sudanese leader Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who stands accused of committing war crimes in his country’s western Darfur region, will make his third visit to Turkey to attend a meeting in Istanbul on Monday.
The visit comes after the International Criminal Court, or ICC, issued an arrest warrant for the 65-year-old leader in March on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Al-Bashir will be in Istanbul for a meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, or OIC.
When asked if al-Bashir would be arrested upon landing in Turkey because of his outstanding arrest warrant, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin remained vague, saying only that the statutory provisions of international law would be fulfilled. His remarks, however, were not clear enough to reveal whether al-Bashir would be arrested.
Turkey has ‘indirect’ responsibility
Turkey is not a party to the Rome Statute that established the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal, the ICC.
“Yes, Turkey is not a party to the Rome Statute and does not have to abide by its rulings but since the country is a member of the United Nations, it has an indirect responsibility to comply with it because the ICC was established by the United Nations,” Özlem Altıparmak, chairperson of Amnesty International Turkey, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.
“Would non-obedience with the arrest warrant cause a headache for Turkey? Legally no, but this is a problem politically,” she said.
Al-Bashir’s government denies charges of ordering civilians to be killed. In October, U.S. President Barack Obama warned Khartoum of more pressure if it fails to respond to his fresh incentives to stop “genocide” and “abuses” in Darfur.
“The United States is strongly committed to pursuing peace in Sudan and believes those who committed atrocities should be held accountable,” Deborah L. Guido, U.S. Embassy spokeswoman in Ankara, told the Daily News. She declined, however, to comment on al-Bashir’s travel plans.
U.N. a ‘claimant’ in al-Bashir case
The Turkish government came under fire for giving a cordial welcome to the Sudanese president and his deputy on past visits.
“Turkey’s being non-party to the Rome Statute has no relevance as it is a member of the U.N. Security Council. The case at the ICC opened in line with a report forwarded by [that council],” said Öztürk Türkdoğan, spokesman for the Turkish Coalition for the International Criminal Court.
“The United Nations is a claimant in this case and Turkey, as its member, should review the decisions of the United Nations,” he said.
The ICC, unlike the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights, prosecutes individuals, not states, for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. In the Sudanese leader’s case, the judges did not find enough evidence to charge him with genocide as sought by the court prosecutor although this charge could be added later.
Türkdoğan urged Ankara to assist the ICC. “Turkey has a responsibility also arising from Article 13 of its penal code that opens the way for the trial of those accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity with the consent of the justice minister. Turkey’s non-obedience with the arrest warrant also means a violation of its domestic law,” he said.
The government should not pursue an inconsistent policy that criticizes Israel for its actions in Gaza but remains silent on the Darfur issue, Türkdoğan said.
“The process over the U.N. report accusing Israel over Gaza is not finalized yet but the case over al-Bashir is one step further as there is an arrest warrant. Turkey must act as a democratic state governed by the rule of law, otherwise it will face problems in the international arena,” he said.


Friday, November 6, 2009
ISTANBUL – Daily News with wires

The European Union asked Turkey to reassess its invitation to Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, wanted by a U.N. court for war crimes, the Reuters news agency reported Friday, citing an anonymous Foreign Ministry source.
Al-Bashir is set to attend a meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, or OIC, in Istanbul this weekend. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court, or ICC, on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
Turkish President Abdullah Gül responded to journalists’ inquiries later on Friday about reconsidering al-Bashir’s visit, the Anatolia news agency reported.
“This is a regional meeting, and as members of international organizations we understand it as such,” he said. “Therefore, we will treat all members equally.”
“Why are they getting involved?” he asked.
An anonymous Turkish government official also told Agence France-Presse on Friday that al-Bashir would not be arrested during his stay in Turkey.
The OIC has invited al-Bashir to an economic summit in Istanbul, and he is expected to be in the city on Sunday and Monday, barring a last-minute change.
"They responded positively to the invitation, and we assume he will be coming, but things may change at the last moment," the Turkish government official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
"To arrest him after having invited him does not seem probable to me," the official said.
The official explained that Ankara is not a signatory of the ICC treaty and "therefore its decisions are not legally binding for Turkey."
Moreover, the arrest warrant for al-Bashir has not been backed up by any U.N. Security Council resolution, she said, adding that Turkey was only the host of the Istanbul meeting, with the list of invitations drawn up by the OIC.
The official conceded Turkey might face criticism from the European Union, which it is seeking to join, and which "has made demands for Turkey to sign the ICC treaty."
The ICC issued the arrest warrant for al-Bashir in March, making him the first sitting president to face such action. The Sudanese leader faces charges on five counts of crimes against humanity and two of war crimes in the western region where the U.N. estimates that up to 300,000 people have died since 2003.
Turkey voiced concerns at the time that the warrant might prove counter-productive for efforts to stabilize conflict-torn Sudan.
A string of African and Arab states along with Sudan's key ally China also slammed the warrant.
Last year, Turkey's government came under fire for hosting al-Bashir twice: a bilateral visit in January and then at multilateral cooperation talks with African leaders in August.


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