Omar al-Bashir

ICC fugitive al-Bashir in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, January 2009. © U.S. Navy/Jesse B. Awalt
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has been wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Darfur, Sudan since 2009. He is the first sitting head-of-state to be issued with an ICC arrest warrant.
Case status: 
Pre-trial
Regions: 
Africa
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has been wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Darfur, Sudan since 2005. With the issuance of two ICC arrest warrants in 2009 and 2010, al-Bashir became the first ever sitting head of state to be wanted by an international court. This was also the first genocide charge ever brought by the ICC. While several ICC member states have since hosted al-Bashir contrary to their obligations to arrest ICC fugitives, his international travel has been greatly curtailed by the threat of legal action, often instigated by national civil society groups. The UN Security Council, having referred the situation to the ICC, has consistently failed to ensure al-Bashir’s arrest.

The Coalition and several of its members have tracked al-Bashir's movements since his arrest warrants were issued, called for his arrest and surrender to the ICC, raised awareness in the international community of the gravity of the alleged crimes and assisted with outreach to Darfuri diaspora.

Background: 

Al-Bashir becomes first head of state charged by ICC  

On 4 March 2009, ICC Pre-Trial Chamber (PTC) I issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir—the first ever issued for a sitting head of state by the ICC—for crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed in Darfur during the five preceding years. The UN Security Council had referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC for investigation and prosecution. 

Second arrest warrant brings ICC's first genocide charges 

On 3 February 2010, the Appeals Chamber unanimously reversed PTC I's decision not to include genocide among the charges in al-Bashir's first arrest warrant. On 12 July 2010, PTC I issued a second arrest warrant for al-Bashir, adding three counts of genocide in relation to crimes against the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa ethnic groups – they are the first genocide charges before the ICC.

Charges: 

The ICC prosecutor alleges that soon after an April 2003 rebel attack on the El Fasher airport, al-Bashir and other high-ranking Sudanese political and military leaders developed a common plan to carry out a counter-insurgency against the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A), the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and other rebel groups opposing the government of Sudan in Darfur.  

Al-Bashir is suspected of committing, as an indirect perpetrator, five counts of crimes against humanity (murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture, and rape), two counts of war crimes (intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population and pillaging) and three counts of genocide during the alleged counter-insurgency campaign. 

The three counts of genocide include: genocide by killing; genocide by causing serious bodily or mental harm; and genocide by deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction. 

Challenges: 

Failures to arrest al-Bashir 

Since the ICC issued his arrest warrants, al-Bashir has visited several UN and ICC member states without arrest, despite pressure from the ICC, other states, international organizations and civil society. Nevertheless, he has become increasingly isolated in the international arena with his international travel greatly curtailed by the threat of legal action, often instigated by national civil society groups. 

NGOs in several countries, including South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Djibouti, Malawi, India and Indonesia have called on their governments to uphold their obligations—as members of the ICC, the UN, or both—to turn away or arrest al-Bashir. 

There have been several active attempts to oblige national authorities to arrest al-Bashir, including in Angola, Mali, Kenya, South African, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Egypt, Morocco, Zambia, Rwanda and Chad. 

ICC judges, meanwhile, have referred instances of non-cooperation by states to the Assembly of States Parties as well as the UN Security Council. However, no further action has been taken by either body.  The UN Security Council, having referred the situation to the ICC, has consistently failed to ensure al-Bashir’s arrest.