The Arab group said that they would ask officially the Security Council to use again article 16 in order to defer the request by Mr Ocampo to arrest Mr Bechir. What is your position ?
I can just restate what is the constant position of France, which is for the moment that the question is not raised.
If the question is raised tomorrow, the answer of the French delegation will be very clear : we will oppose any intention by anyone to raise article 16 in relation with the situation in Darfur and in Sudan.
For the moment, we have said to the Sudanese government what we, France, we, the European union, and we, the international community, are asking for : to stop the killings in Darfur, to participate in a very extensive and comprehensive dialogue with the opposition to renew some trustful relations with Chad and to cooperate with the ICC, and of course, to facilitate the deployment of UNAMID. So this is the position of France and it has never changed.
We are not negotiating with the government of Sudan and we are just reiterating our position, as I mentioned above, and we will oppose for the moment any kind - any kind - of request for using article 16, this is very clear, and there is absolutely no misunderstanding on that.
And I think the Sudanese authorities are very clear on where we stand.
Yesterday you listed those things and said that if Sudan did them, " why not" ?
Why not review the situation. Of course, by definition, if they cooperate with the ICC, the situation regarding the ICC and Sudan will be changed. But we have constantly said they have to initiate some cooperation with the ICC, precisely for the indictment of the two indictees that we have, who are Mr Haroun et Ali Kushayb they have to cooperate with the ICC for that matter.
And if they try in Sudan, in a way that the ICC could… ?
Exactly, that’s the point. I mean, if they want to try them, there is some subsidiarity in the Rome Statute and if they do that in agreement or in cooperation with the ICC, then the ICC will decide what to do, of course.
But for the moment, regarding Mr Bechir as you know very well, anyway, we are waiting for the preliminary chamber to decide upon the request of the prosecutors. So the question is not raised in our view, this is very clear.
M. Ocampo said the proceedings in Sudan are not credible. He said that as soon as they announced they were setting up a new investigation.
I think they have to talk, both the ICC and the Sudanese government, and we will see what M. Ocampo says.
Yesterday you said - you said it before but maybe you could clarify - that it is not too late for Sudan to cooperate with the ICC.
That is precisely what I am saying.
This implies, somewhere, that if they did do that, it could change the situation ?
If they do that, the ICC will decide how they want to act. But for the moment we also have always said that the ICC is an independent body. We believe in the freedom of justice and we believe in the rule of law and the due process of law. The ICC has to decide what they want to do vis-à-vis Sudan. It is not up to us to decide, this is very clear.
Stakeout of 17 September 2008
Is France in any discussion at all with the Sudanese on the possible invocation of article 16 ?
Sudan and article 16 is not the same. Article 16 is a question regarding the ICC.
I know, it is two separate questions...
It is my answer.
Regarding Sudan, we are very clear on the relationship we have with them and we are engaged in talks, in discussions, like all the other countries on the planet.
We have received some ministers in Paris, we have sent some officials to Khartoum. We are trying, to tell the Sudanese - and I think everybody else is doing the same to my knowledge , I had a very extensive talk with the Representative of the African Union, and my feeling is that we are passing exactly the same kind of messages- first : stop the killings and stop the military actions in Darfur. The people in Darfur need peace, they deserve peace. Do what you can for alleviating this suffering and improve the humanitarian access to Darfur. Second : increase and improve the capacity of the authorities to participate in a political dialogue with all the opposition forces. Third : improve your relationship with Chad, because of course - and it is not a question of who is responsible for what - the two countries have to work together. We hope that the commitment they have taken to renew diplomatic relations is good. And the fourth point of course is : cooperate with the ICC. I said it repeatedly, this is our position. Whatever they do, they have to cooperate officially with the ICC. If they want to try their own citizens in their own country, this is allowed by the treaty, but they have to do that in agreement with the ICC. It is never too late to cooperate. There are two indictees, Mr Haroun et Ali Kushayb they can cooperate with the ICC to see away how to trial those people if they want to cooperate. We will see then what happens.
If there were a series of conditions placed on a possible article 16 suspension of investigation or any future indictment of President Bechir, would France in theory be open to the idea of providing these conditions help the Darfur peace process ?
For the moment there is no initiative to my knowledge, so the question is not raised. If the question is raised, we will see, we will see the circumstances. If they stop bombing and killing in Darfur, if they cooperate for the deployment of UNAMID, which is of course one of the conditions we put for the United Nations’ operation they have themselves accepted, if they have a fully inclusive political dialog, if there is no more problem with Chad, and if they have some internal disposition which has been approved by the ICC regarding the trail of criminals, why not ?