Sudan and the international community must ensure al-Bashir faces justice

Image credit: ICC
Coalition for the International Criminal Court

Recently-deposed President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan must appear before the International Criminal Court (ICC), stated the Coalition of the International Criminal Court (CICC).

Al-Bashir has been wanted by the ICC for alleged crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide committed in Darfur, Sudan since 2009. While Sudan is not a member of the ICC, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has the authority to refer situations to the Court’s Office of the Prosecutor. With only 4 abstentions, the Council voted in favor of Resolution 1593 referring the situation in Darfur, Sudan to the ICC on 31 March 2005 – the first Council referral in the Court’s history.

In March 2009, ICC pre-trial judges granted the Prosecutor’s request for an arrest warrant for Al-Bashir for crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed in Darfur in the preceding five years. A second arrest warrant was issued the following year for the charge of genocide. Al-Bashir is the first sitting head of state to be wanted by the International Criminal Court.

“Al-Bashir is subject to 2 ICC arrest warrants on suspicion of being responsible for massive human rights violations amounting to the most serious of crimes. Sudan, with support from the international community, must ensure that he is surrendered to the Court to stand trial for these unimaginable atrocities,” said William Pace, Convenor of the Coalition for the ICC.

On 11 April 2019, following months of protest nationwide, the First Vice President and Defense Minister of Sudan, Mr. Ahmed Ibn Auf, announced the arrest of al-Bashir and his removal from power. The Defense Minister also declared a three-month state of emergency and the creation of a transitional military council to lead the country for the next two years.

“The Sudanese people have spoken and al-Bashir has been toppled. But his crimes will not be forgotten. He must not receive refuge or safe haven. He must be sent to the ICC. He must face justice,” said Mustafa Adam Ahmed Hussain, Darfuri Activist and Director of Zarga Organization for Rural Development, Sudan.

“The new government authorities of Sudan must surrender al-Bashir, as well as Ahmad Muhammad Harun, Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman (Ali Kushayb”), Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein, and Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain to the ICC in order to provide justice to the victims of the international crimes and the other perpetrators of the human right violations that have been committed in the country. Any and all of their accomplices should be tried before competent national courts as part of a transitional justice process that must go hand-in-hand with a genuine transition to democracy,” said Amir Suliman, Legal Programme Director, African Center for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), Sudan.

While al-Bashir’s travel following the issuance of the ICC arrest warrants was significantly curtailed, many states – including UNSC and ICC member states – have welcomed him on their territories, and failed in their obligation to arrest. “Sudan is a country at a crossroads. The international community must support the transitional authorities and the people of Sudan in ensuring that al-Bashir and other ICC suspects are transferred to The Hague and brought to justice before the ICC for charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes,” Pace continued.

“The victims of Sudan have waited far too long for acknowledgement, justice, and reparation for the crimes they have suffered. Justice delayed is a travesty; justice denied is simply unacceptable,” said Kirsten Meersschaert, Director of Programs, Coalition for the ICC.