Thursday, March 5, 2009

ICC Issues Arrest Warrant for al-Bashir

On March 4, 2009, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity in relation to attacks against civilian populations of Darfur, Sudan. 

The warrant includes 7 counts on the basis of al-Bashir's individual criminal responsibility: five counts of crimes against humanity (murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture, and rape), as well as two counts of war crimes (intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities and pillaging). The majority of the Chamber, with Judge Anita UĊĦacka dissenting, declined to include the crime of genocide in the arrest warrant based on the Prosecution's failure to provide reasonable grounds to believe that the government of Sudan acted with specific intent to destroy, in whole or in part, the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa groups. The Judges noted, however, that the Prosecution may request an amendment to the warrant of arrest in order to include the crime of genocide if the Prosecution gathers additional evidence. See the Rome Statute for the statutory bases of these charges.

For more information, please see the ICC's Press Release. See also "ICC Faces Deferral of al-Bashir Prosecution."

1 comment:

  1. On May 14, 2009, I attended an event called the "How to make a better world" conference at the Clingendael in the Hague, the Netherlands. The Clingendael was the former HQ of the Nazis when they occupied Holland and people were tortured there. Now, it is a beautiful location within grounds filled with trees, lawns, ponds, and numerous geese as well as stately buildings. Justice Richard Goldstone, former chief prosecutor of the ICTY, spoke in an interview format and gave many useful reflections. He dreams that there will someday be no need for ad hoc tribunals like the Int'l Criminal Tribune for the former Yugoslavia, the Int'l Criminal Tribune for Rwanda, and others b/c there will be a single court, such as the Int'l Criminal Court, that has jurisdiction over all crimes of this nature. He noted that the ICC would not exist were it not for the U.S.'s early support for the concept of the ICC in the 1990s as well as the U.S. support for the predecessor tribunals, such as ICTY and ICTR, that set the stage for the ICC. Justice Goldstone noted that tribunals serve a few different functions (he had been asked to explain to the younger members of the audience from high school why tribunals were important), including (a) helping the victims with their healing process; (b) bringing accountability, and (c) establishing the truth so that national myths (e.g. we were all victimized by another party) could not persist (e.g., instead, in the Balkans, e.g., he noted that Serbs, Croatians, and Bosnians were both victims and aggressors to each other). Justice Goldstone is currently serving a three month fellowship in the Hague sponsored by Leiden University and NIAS (Netherlands Institute of Advanced Studies?). It was very interesting to hear about the role of these historical tribunals straight from the former chief prosecutor of ICTY. Justice Goldstone is now preparing a report on Gaza on behalf of the UN. I believe he might be a special rapporteur but I have to research the inquiry further. Best regards, Rob Gaudet