The International Criminal Court (ICC) tightened the noose over Sudan President Omar al-Bashir’s neck when a warrant of arrest was issued Wednesday, March 4, on charges of alleged crimes against humanity and war crime in Darfur region.
“Omar al Bashir is suspected of the criminally responsible, as an indirectly co perpetrator or in the alternative as indirect perpetrator for intentionally directing attacks against an important part of the civilian population of Darfur-Sudan,” ICC Spokesperson Laurence Blairon told the press conference.
The arrest warrant listed seven counts against the Sudanese leader Bashir for his individual responsibility , including five counts of crime against humanity; murder-article 7(1)(a); extermination article 7(1)(b); forcible transfer article 7(1)(d); torture article 7(1)(f); and rape article 7(1)(g) and two counts of crimes intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities article 8(2)(e)(I); and pillaging article 8(2)(e)(v).
The genocide charge was not included because the alleged material that were provided by the Prosecution in support of their application for a warrant of arrest failed to provide reasonable grounds to believe that the Government of Sudan acted with specific intent to destroy in who or in part the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa groups.
The Government of Sudan has also been accused by the same court for systematically refusing to cooperate with it since the issuance of warrants to arrest the Sudanese
Minister for Humanitarian Affair, Ahmad Harun and regional Janjaweed militia leader, Ali Kushayb on May 2, 2007.
The Court’s decision to prosecute a sitting president, for the first time since the ICC was established in 2002, has caused some kind of nervousness among African dictators including Sudanese diplomats here in the west.
The ICC has called on all the United Nations member states to use their power to arrest Bashir. Efforts by this writer to get a comment from Omer Siddig, Ambassador of Sudan to the UK were unsuccessful as there were no body returning the phone calls.
There are mixed feelings as the Africa Union is reported to have warned that the warrant of arrest for President Bashir could push Sudan into deeper chaos.
According to a statement, China remained silence whether it will veto the decision at the Security Council if the ICC issued a decision against President Al-Bashir.
The Chinese Ambassador said that China maintains contacts with all the concerned parties especially that the responsibilities of the Security Council is to safeguard peace and political solution for Darfur issue and that the five permanent members of the Security Council endeavour for the stability of Sudan as well as solving the issue of Darfur.
China and the United States, permanent members of the UN Security Council, have been critical of the court and have not signed to nor joined the treaty.
Already appeared before the court is ex-warlord in DR Congo Thomas Lubanga, who faces charges of alleged use of child-soldier while another indictee, Uganda’s LRA rebel leader Joseph Kony, is still at large.
The ICC decision to prosecute President Bashir has reinvigorated debates about peace and justice worldwide. Dictators and their generals who have, previously been accused of crimes against humanity may face the same consequences.
While the decision could pave the way for reform in Sudan, the Government does not accept the court’s jurisdiction and any decision could deepen divisions.
The end result could be increased violence in a volatile region, compromising a fragile peace in southern Sudan and the Three Areas.