[dehai-news] (AFP) US says 'under no obligation' to arrest Beshir

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From: Biniam Tekle (biniamt@dehai.org)
Date: Wed Mar 25 2009 - 07:30:42 EST

US says 'under no obligation' to arrest Beshir

Mar 24, 2009

WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States said Tuesday it is "under no legal
obligation" to act on an International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant and
arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir for alleged war crimes.

State Department spokesman Robert Wood gave the reply when asked if he
thought there were merits in the ICC, which the preceding administration of
George W. Bush strongly objected to when it was launched in 2002.

"We have said over and again that those who commit atrocities need to be
held accountable. And that's where we stand on it," Wood told reporters
during the daily news briefing.

"We are under no obligation to the ICC to arrest President Beshir. We're not
a party to the Rome Statute. And let's leave it at that," he said.

More than 100 countries -- including most western democracies -- have become
a party to the ICC which was set up under the 1998 Rome Statute and is the
first permanent tribunal for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

US officials say President Barack Obama's administration is reviewing its
policy on the ICC after the Bush administration snubbed it and drew fire
that it was showing contempt for international law.

But the Obama administration faces several obstacles if it wants to join,
analysts say.

Experts say it could meet resistance from the US armed forces and Congress,
and any support could vanish if the ICC warrant for Beshir's arrest leads to
more, rather than less, bloodshed in Sudan's Darfur region.

The ICC issued its arrest warrant for Beshir on March 4.

On Monday Beshir defied the warrant and paid a brief visit to neighboring
Eritrea to meet with his ally, President Issaias Afeworki, while an Egyptian
official told AFP that Beshir will visit Egypt on Wednesday.

Neither Egypt nor Eritrea are signatories to the Rome Statute which created
the ICC. As members of the United Nations they are urged to cooperate with
the court.

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