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18 septembre 2008 - Soudan : Stake out de M. Jean-Maurice Ripert

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.

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