The Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC had already issued an arrest warrant for President Al-Bashir on counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, in March 2009. The ICC Prosecutor had sought that the charge of genocide also be included. After further deliberations among ICC judges, the ICC decided to add the charge of genocide by issuing a supplementary arrest warrant, on 12 July 2010.
“The implication of this decision is that President Al-Bashir is now suspected of having committed specific crimes, including murder and serious bodily or mental harm, with the aim of destroying the Fur, Mansalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups in Darfur. However, it must be recalled that war crimes and crimes against humanity, for which he has been sought so far, are equally serious crimes. Al-Bashir is the first acting president to be indicted by the ICC. He is now also the first person ever charged with genocide in the history of the ICC,” said Souhayr Belhassen, President of FIDH.
FIDH recalls that Al-Bashir’s quality of head of state is fully irrelevant before the ICC. “When it comes to the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, no-one is above the law. Mr. Bashir’s recent re-election as president of Sudan has no impact on the ICC decision to have him arrested. He is a fugitive from justice,” added Ms. Belhassen.
The decision implies that there is a suspicion that Al-Bashir has committed genocide, but it could be overturned in the course of trial if the judges found that there is no sufficient evidence to substantiate the additional charge.
In order for such a trial to be possible, Al-Bashir must be arrested and surrendered to the ICC. FIDH takes this opportunity to call upon all States to make efforts towards the execution of the arrest warrant, including through measures aiming at Al-Bashir’s isolation and shaming. In this respect, our organisations note that although Al-Bashir has attempted to mock the ICC and the international community, he has not travelled to the territory of a State Party to the ICC, where he could be arrested. Further efforts must be made so that victims of international crimes in Darfur can access justice for the crimes they have suffered.
FIDH recalls that all parties to the conflict in Darfur must be brought to account. Rebel leaders Abu Garda, Banda and Jerbo have already surrendered to the ICC. President Al-Bashir should follow their example.