SUDAN WATCH: TEXT: ICC issues a warrant of arrest for Omar Al Bashir, President of Sudan

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

TEXT: ICC issues a warrant of arrest for Omar Al Bashir, President of Sudan

Press Release from International Criminal Court (ICC) March 4, 2009
Click here for Francaise/Arabic

ICC issues a warrant of arrest for Omar Al Bashir, President of Sudan
Situation: Darfur, Sudan

Today, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for the arrest of Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir, President of Sudan, for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He is suspected of being criminally responsible, as an indirect (co-)perpetrator, for intentionally directing attacks against an important part of the civilian population of Darfur, Sudan, murdering, exterminating, raping, torturing and forcibly transferring large numbers of civilians, and pillaging their property. This is the first warrant of arrest ever issued for a sitting Head of State by the ICC.

Omar Al Bashir’s official capacity as a sitting Head of State does not exclude his criminal responsibility, nor does it grant him immunity against prosecution before the ICC, according to Pre-Trial Chamber I.

According to the Judges, the above-mentioned crimes were allegedly committed during a five year counter-insurgency campaign by the Government of Sudan against the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A), the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and other armed groups opposing the Government of Sudan in Darfur. It is alleged that this campaign started soon after the April 2003 attack on El Fasher airport as a result of a common plan agreed upon at the highest level of the Government of Sudan by Omar Al Bashir and other high-ranking Sudanese political and military leaders. It lasted at least until 14 July 2008, the date of the filing of the Prosecution’s Application for the warrant of arrest for Omar Al Bashir.

A core component of that campaign was the unlawful attack on that part of the civilian population of Darfur – belonging largely to the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa groups – perceived to be close to the organised armed groups opposing the Government of Sudan in Darfur. The said civilian population was to be unlawfully attacked by Government of Sudan forces, including the Sudanese Armed Forces and their allied Janjaweed Militia, the Sudanese Police Force, the National Intelligence and Security Service and the Humanitarian Aid Commission.

The Chamber found that Omar al Bashir, as the de jure and de facto President of Sudan and Commander-in-Chief of the Sudanese Armed Forces, is suspected of having coordinated the design and implementation of the counter-insurgency campaign. In the alternative, it also found that there are reasonable grounds to believe that he was in control of all branches of the “apparatus” of the State of Sudan and used such control to secure the implementation of the counter-insurgency campaign.

The counts

The warrant of arrest for Omar Al Bashir lists 7 counts on the basis of his individual criminal responsibility (article 25(3)(a)) including:

five counts of crimes 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);

two counts of war 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).

Findings concerning genocide

The majority of the Chamber, Judge Anita Ušacka dissenting, found that the material provided by the Prosecution in support of its 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 whole or in part, the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa groups. Consequently, the crime of genocide is not included in the warrant issued for the arrest of Omar Al Bashir. Nevertheless, the Judges stressed that if additional evidence is gathered by the Prosecution, the decision would not prevent the Prosecution from requesting an amendment to the warrant of arrest in order to include the crime of genocide.

Cooperation of States

The Judges directed the Registrar to prepare and transmit, as soon as practicable, a request for cooperation for the arrest and surrender of Omar Al Bashir to Sudan, and to all States Parties to the Rome Statute and all United Nations Security Council (UNSC) members that are not party to the Statute, as well as to any other State as may be necessary.

The Judges found that, according to UNSC resolution 1593 and articles 25 and 103 of the UN Charter, the obligation of the Government of Sudan to fully cooperate with the Court prevails over any other international obligation that the Government of Sudan may have undertaken pursuant to any other international agreement.

Pre-Trial Chamber I also found that the Government of Sudan has systematically refused to cooperate with the Court since the issuance of warrants for the arrest of the Sudanese Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Ahmad Harun, and a regional Janjaweed militia leader, Ali Kushayb, on 2 May 2007. As a result, the Judges emphasised that, according to article 87(7) of the Statute, if the Government of Sudan continues to fail to comply with its cooperation obligations to the Court, the competent Chamber “may make a finding to that effect” and decide to “refer the matter […] to the Security Council.”

Furthermore, the Judges noted that the dispositive part of UNSC resolution 1593 expressly urges all States, whether party or not to the Rome Statute, as well as international and regional organisations to “cooperate fully” with the Court.

Information concerning "ICC issues a warrant of arrest for Omar Al Bashir, President of Sudan"
For further information please contact Ms Laurence Blairon, Spokesperson, at
+31 (0)70 515 87 14 or +31 (0) 6 46 44 88 89 or at

Interviews can be arranged in English or French. In order to request such interviews, please call Mr Fadi El-Abdallah (French and Arabic media) at +31 (0)70 515 91 52 or Ms Kerry Picket (English media) at +31 (0)70 515 91 30.

Click here for relevant links to:

- Decision on the Prosecution's Application for a Warrant of Arrest against Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir
- Warrant of Arrest for Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir
- Summary of the Decision
- Questions and Answers
- Case information sheet
- Statement of the Registrar of the ICC, Silvana Arbia
- Photo gallery
- - -

International Court Charges Sudan President with War Crimes

Report from Voice of America News 5 March 2009 - excerpt:
ICC Darfur Sudan

Photo: ICC's Chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo gives a press conference in The Hague, Netherlands, March 4, 2009 (VOA)

"As soon as al-Bashir travels through international airspace he can be arrested," he [chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo] said. "Like Slobodan Milosevic or Charles Taylor, Omar al-Bashir's destiny is to face justice. It will be in two months or two years, but he will face justice."

Dozens of protesters outside the court, many of them refugees from Darfur, cheered the decision.

Prosecutor Moreno Ocampo, meanwhile, played down the lack of genocide charges, saying he may appeal that at a later date, and played up the historic moment: the first time this court has issued an arrest warrant for a sitting head of state. It's now up to Sudanese authorities to arrest him. If they don't, which is likely, it's up to the UN Security Council to ensure Mr. al-Bashir's arrest -- effective immediately.


Blogger Hannah said...

The ICC ruling against Omar al-Bashir president of Sudan on charges relating on the basis of humanity, murder, exertion, rape, war crimes has the clearly given the message that every one are equal in the eyes of justice, but this move might lead to further unrest in the country. Does this mean we should turn a blind eye on crimes on humanity? Make your stance on the situation of arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir at

Thursday, March 05, 2009  
Blogger Ingrid Jones said...

Thanks Hannah. And thanks to Joanne at Reuters Alert for inviting me to have my say at:

HAVE YOUR SAY: What will Bashir warrant mean for aid groups in Sudan?
04 Mar 2009
Written by: Reuters AlertNet

A decision by the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for war crimes in Darfur has stoked fears of more turmoil in Sudan and the region.

What exactly will the decision mean for aid agencies tackling one of the world's worst humanitarian crises? We'd like to hear from you - particularly if you are an aid worker in Sudan (anonymous comments welcome). What will the decision mean for your operations? Have they been impacted already? What fallout do you expect to see?

Before the widely anticipated decision, Britain's Times newspaper reported [see report copied here below] that six agencies had been ordered to move international staff out of 10 camps and towns. The African Union and the Arab League had warned it could worsen the Darfur conflict and threaten an already troubled peace deal between north Sudan and the semi-autonomous south.
Help us move this story forward by adding your comments below.


UN aid worker, Khartoum says:
04 Mar 2009 14:17:17 GMT
Right now, Khartoum is quiet, but it's late. Tomorrow will be when we see reaction. We're expecting demonstrations, but that's normal. Darfur is also pretty quiet. The biggest issue there may be celebrations rather than anything else.

International staff, Khartoum says:
04 Mar 2009 14:18:46 GMT
The most vulnerable people if there's a backlash are probably anyone local associated with human rights work, not the big UN agencies. And some of the smaller NGOs. I can't see them throwing out the World Food Programme or the UN missions.

INGO staff member, Khartoum says:
04 Mar 2009 14:20:47 GMT
We've moved local staff out of Darfur, but that's precautionary. Sudan is a pretty unpredicatble place, tho - we'll see what unfolds over the next few days.
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From The Times
March 4, 2009

Aid workers fear more violence planned as Sudan prepare for war crimes ruling

By Rob Crilly in Zam Zam Camp, Darfur, western Sudan March 3, 2009
Foreign aid workers have been ordered out of key locations across Darfur as the Sudanese Government flexes its muscles before a decision today by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on whether to charge President al-Bashir with war crimes.

Six aid agencies, including Oxfam and Médecins sans Frontières (MSF), were told to move international staff out of ten camps and towns for their own safety.

Diplomats and United Nations officials have been trying to maintain the illusion of business as usual while the world waits to find out what the ICC judges have decided. More than 50,000 people in Sudan's western desert region have been displaced by recent fighting, government forces are out in strength in the main cities and aid workers are being separated from the millions who need their help.

Few believe the Government's explanation that it is acting out of concern for foreign nationals. “If there is a reaction to the announcement it is unlikely to be made by displaced people against the agencies who provide them with services,” said an aid worker in Darfur. “The worry is that the Government will be the one to react and doesn't want internationals to see what they are up to.”

The UN estimates that more than 300,000 people have died since rebels took up arms against the Government six years ago. Mr al-Bashir's regime armed Arab militias - known as the Janjawid - and sent them on a brutal scorched-earth campaign. His aircraft continue to bomb targets.

The Times has learnt that six aid agencies - including the French charity Solidarités and two American organisations, CHF and Care International - were called to a hastily arranged meeting with government officials in Khartoum on Sunday.

They were told initially to pull international staff back to Khartoum, prompting fears that they would be expelled altogether. They have since been allowed to remain in Darfur's three regional capitals.

Workers affected include doctors and nurses with MSF trying to control an outbreak of meningitis in Nertiti, and managers of water projects in several camps. A Sudanese official also telephoned several other agencies in South Darfur yesterday warning them to withdraw.

A UN official said: “The situation right now is quite fragile. This news came as a jolt. We are working closely with the NGOs and the authorities to ensure the aid workers can return and continue their jobs as soon as possible.” The world's largest humanitarian operation is under way in Darfur, where almost three million people have been displaced by violence. After six years, countless UN resolutions and a 15,000-strong peacekeeping force, thousands more families have lost their homes in recent weeks.

About 26,000 people have reached Zam Zam, just outside the North Darfur capial of El Fasher, in the past month after fleeing a government assault on the town of Muhajiriya. They were still arriving yesterday, crammed on to trucks or with their belongings piled on handcarts. Families are camped in the sand, using plastic sheets and blankets to build makeshift windbreaks - anything to keep out the dust and blistering sun.

Mariam Ahmed Abu had managed to stay in her own home through much of the fighting. Then the Janjawid arrived last month to wrest control of Muhajiriya from rebels of the Justice and Equality Movement. As she walked to fetch water with her daughter they were caught in a gunfight. Her daughter was shot and died at her feet.

“My son had been killed and now my daughter and there was no one left to care for me,” she said, beside a tent that is now her home. “The same thing had happened to many of the other old people so we all came together.” Few here have heard of the ICC or the campaign for justice on their behalf. Those that have fear the Government could use it to seek revenge on refugees who in the main support rebel factions.

Police officers from a joint UN and African Union peacekeeping force patrolled Zam Zam to reassure residents that they would not be abandoned if trouble flared. Abdullah Ismail, one of the camp's tribal sheikhs, said everyone was waiting to see what would happen. “People are afraid,” he said. “We are worried about what the Government will do. It is not a good time.”

Thierry Durand, director of operations with MSF-France, said that thousands of people would be left with no access to medical facilities after nurses and doctors were evacuated.
- - -

HAVE YOUR SAY: What will Bashir warrant mean for aid groups in Sudan?

Thursday, March 05, 2009  

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