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Legal experts suspicious of ICC motives on Jordan and Bashir

Legal experts suspicious of ICC motives on Jordan and Bashir. (AFP)
AMMAN: Jordanian political and legal experts as well as human rights experts have questioned the motives behind the International Criminal Court (ICC) move to censure Jordan for not arresting Sudanese President Omar Bashir while attending the Arab Summit in Jordan last March.
Jordanian constitutional lawyer Mohammed Hammouri said that claims that Jordan did not cooperate with the ICC had no "actionable power" to it, noting that tens of similar decisions were taken against Israel that were not executed.
Speaking to the independent website Jordan24, the former minister of justice said that he was surprised by the claim against Jordan. “Omar Bashir has traveled to many locations in recent months and years and there has been no movement by the International Criminal Court," he said. "This action and its timing is very strange.”
The US and most Western powers have softened toward Bashir in recent years due to his decision to cooperate with them in the campaign against Daesh.
Former Jordanian Foreign Minister Kamel Abu Jaber was more blunt, saying he was certain that "Zionist hands" were behind the move. “This is not an innocent move, there are suspicious Zionist hands behind it.”
Abu Jaber dismissed the calls as worthless, saying that the US and Israel were not even members of the ICC.
Jordanian MP Tarek Khoury told Arab News that the move against Jordan should be a lesson to the government about the kind of allies it wanted. “At the very moment that Jordan has tried to act independently, the allies of Jordan, specifically the Americans, are now trying to punish our leadership for taking a position different from them on a case as important as Jerusalem.”
Muhannad Alazzeh, an international legal and human rights expert, told Arab News that there were legal and political ways to look at the case. As a principle, the Rome Statute, which regulates the working of the ICC, requires participating countries to cooperate. “Clause 7B of Article 87 stipulates that cases of countries who don’t cooperate with the court can be turned over to the Security Council,” he said.
Alazzeh, however, pointed out a legal loophole. “Clause 6 from Article 93 specifies that this applies to any member country that refuses to honor a request issued to it by the court or its prosecutor. Therefore, the key question is whether the court has made a specific request to Jordan to arrest Bashir while he was in the country last March and whether it refused to honor such a request.”
Alazzeh, a former member of the Jordanian Senate, told Arab News that the more important part of the case was the political nature of it. “Bashir was in Jordan more than six months ago and nothing was made of it. The fact that this is being discussed now raises a question about the true motivation behind it. If the goal of the ICC is to carry out justice and to arrest Bashir as a wanted individual, why has it been silent for all this period?”
Alazzeh also said that the Human Rights Watch and the Human Rights Commissioner spoke on this issue last March but the court was silent then. “It seems to me that the move reflects the fact that the Jordanian people and officials are in sync in opposing the US position on Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
Reuters said on Monday that the ICC is considering referring Jordan to the UN Security Council for failing to arrest Bashir when he visited Amman in March.
The court had issued arrest warrants for Bashir in 2009 and 2010 over his alleged role in war crimes including genocide in Sudan’s Darfur province. Jordan, as a member of the ICC, is obliged to carry out its arrest warrants.
But Jordan is not known to have rejected any direct request to extradite Bashir as the Rome Statues regulating the ICC requires.
The Security Council has the power to impose sanctions for a failure to cooperate with the ICC, but so far has not acted on the court referrals.

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