U.S. Again Evades Darfur Genocide Prosecution

News Release
September 16, 2010

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan has again indicated that the United States is not assisting the International Criminal Court’s effort to prosecute Sudan’s president for his role in the Darfur genocide.

In response, Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, said: “A perpetrator of genocide continues to walk free, and the U.S. envoy continues to evade reporters’ questions about it. Bobbing and weaving is not the appropriate response to genocide.”

At a September 15, 2010 press conference at the State Department, Special Envoy Scott Gration was asked what the U.S. is doing to help implement the International Criminal Court’s warrants for the arrest of Sudanese president Omar Bashir, former cabinet minister Ahmed Mohammed Haroun, and others in connection with the Darfur genocide.

Gration replied vaguely, “We continue to support calls of the ICC for these people to comply with the restrictions and requests from the ICC.” He gave no specific examples of anything the U.S. has done to facilitate the arrest of Bashir or the surrender of Haroun. He also made no reference to the fact that Bashir openly visited Kenya and Chad this summer. The United States took no action to bring about his arrest in those countries, or in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or other countries he has visited during the past year.

Gration also said that he currently has no plans to meet with ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who is visiting Washington, D.C. this week.

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Twice earlier this year, Amb. Gration indicated that the U.S. is not seriously pursuing the arrest of President Bashir:

— Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on May 12, 2010, Amb. Gration indicated the U.S. now supports the African Union’s proposal to have Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir judged by a local Sudanese court rather than by the ICC. That would greatly increase the chances of Bashir being acquitted or receiving a light sentence.

— At a March 4, 2010 State Department briefing, Amb. Gration said “[W]e support efforts to ensure that President Bashir answers the questions that the ICC has posed, and we support the process continuing as it’s outlined in the international system. And that’s–we’ll have to see where that one goes.” He did not explain why the U.S. favors having Bashir “answer questions” rather than arrest him. In response, 57 Holocaust scholars mobilized by the Wyman Institute issued a statement saying they were “deeply disappointed that Ambassador Scott Gration waffled when reporters asked him about the U.S. position on prosecuting Bashir.”

The Wyman Institute sponsors the “Bashir Watch” project, which tracks Bashir’s travels and encourages international action to arrest him. Other recent Wyman Institute efforts include a July 2009 letter by 100 Holocaust and genocide scholars to the government of Uganda, praising it for discouraging Bashir from attending a summit in Uganda; an August 2009 petition by 100 Jewish leaders to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, when he visited the U.S., criticizing him for welcoming Bashir to Egypt; an October 2009 letter to President Obama by 119 rabbis, urging active U.S. intervention in Darfur; and a November 2009 letter by 220 prominent Christian and Jewish clergy, on the anniversary of the Nuremberg Trials, urging U.S. action to bring Bashir to justice.

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ABOUT THE WYMAN INSTITUTE: The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, located in Washington, D.C., is a research and education institute focusing on America’s response to the Holocaust. It is named in honor of the eminent historian and author of the 1984 best-seller The Abandonment of the Jews, the most important and influential book concerning the U.S. response to the Nazi genocide.

The Institute’s Advisory Committee includes Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel, Members of Congress, and other luminaries.
The Institute’s Academic Council includes more than fifty leading professors of the Holocaust, American history, and Jewish history.
The Institute’s Arts & Letters Council, chaired by Cynthia Ozick, includes prominent artists, writers, musicians, and filmmakers.

(A complete list is available upon request.)