War-Crimes Vote 'Difficult Decision'; U.S. Seeks Darfur Justice
Byline: Nicholas Kralev, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Countries that are not party to the International Criminal Court can be referred to the tribunal when they lack an internal justice system capable of prosecuting war crimes properly, the Bush administration said yesterday.
That "practice" was established with a U.N. Security Council resolution that authorized the ICC late Thursday to try crimes in Sudan's Darfur region, even though Khartoum has not ratified the court's Rome Statute, administration officials said.
The United States did not block the measure despite its opposition to The Hague-based court in what officials described as a "very difficult decision" made in order to ensure that war criminals in Darfur are brought to justice.
"It establishes a practice," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.
"Sudan doesn't have a mechanism to show that there can and will be accountability for these crimes," he said. "The international community has looked at this situation and decided that this is the appropriate way to ensure prosecution of some horrible abuses and crimes - crimes that we have called genocide."
Several senior officials yesterday tried to explain why the administration demanded a special provision in the resolution that exempts nationals of nonparties to the ICC from prosecution while referring a nonparty to the court.
"Sudan is an extraordinary circumstance," said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. "The international community has to act on Darfur. It has to act with great speed."
Nicholas Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs, said Washington did not veto the measure because it "felt strongly that we had to join the international community in a serious effort to see that justice was done in Darfur. …