Judges at the International Criminal
Court (ICC) in The Hague are expected to issue arrest warrant today against Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir over
his alleged war crimes in Darfur. The ICC judges are due to respond to a request by
the court's chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo for an arrest warrant for
Bashir on charges of war crimes in the Darfur region of western Sudan. But the Sudanese
president defiantly dismissed the charges at a rally in the capital, Khartoum,
telling his supporters that the court should "eat" the arrest warrant. Some
political analysts fear workers of international organizations in Sudan may be
harmed if the ICC issues the arrest warrant. Meanwhile, former South African
Archbishop Desmund Tutu is urging African leaders to back the arrest warrant
against the Sudanese president. Sara Darehshori, senior counsel in Human Rights Watch's
International Justice Program. She tells reporter Peter Clottey that the arrest
warrant will further erode that sense of impunity shared by dictators the world
think this would be an enormously significant event. If the warrant is issued,
it will catapult President Bashir to the top of the world's most wanted list
for suspected war criminals," Darehshori pointed out.
said the ICC chief prosecutor's evidence against President Bashir over alleged
war crimes could lead to today's indictment.
(Bashir) has been charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity
with ten counts in total. And whether or not what charges are confirmed will
depend on whether or not the prosecutor has presented enough evidence to show
that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Bashir is responsible for
those particular crimes. So it's hard to say, because we don't have access to
all the evidence that the prosecutor has presented, because some of it is
presented secretly. But the judges will look at that evidence to decide whether
or not there is a strong enough connection to bring charges against Bashir in
the first instance," she said.
Darehshori said under
international law, Khartoum is obliged to implement the ICC-issued arrest warrant
against President Bashir.
for the execution of the warrant, who will execute it? Well, Sudan is the
likely recipient of the warrant and they are obligated under Security Council
resolution to cooperate with the court. And apart from that it depends on where
the court sends the warrant. So if the court sends the arrest warrant to other
states, they will have the option to arrest Bashir if he comes into their
country. And if they are concerned about how that affects other international
legal obligations about heads of state immunity, then they are entitled to
bring those concerns to the court and the court will decide," Darehshori
said the world will know what the court's decision would be concerning which
countries to send the arrest warrants.
we have to see later today at the press conference what the court says about
where they are going to send the arrest warrants," she said.
said threats made by supporters of Sudan's president should not be taken for granted.
think that these threats are something that should be considered seriously.
We've seen over the past few months with people who are perceived to be people
who are supporting justice for victims in Darfur and people who are perceived
to be supportive of the ICC have been detained. At least two people have been
tortured severely. So I think that one
of the things we need to look out for after this is the sort of response that
the government has on the ground with respect to human rights workers and other
people who they believe who they believe support justice," Darehshori noted.
said Khartoum is expected to protect both local and international workers
despite the outcome of today's likely arrest warrant against President Bashir.
the outcome of the court's decision, Sudan is obligated to maintain security in
the country. It is obligated to protect humanitarian workers and UN forces, and
so that is an important thing to keep in mind," she said.
reportedly high in Sudan as Khartoum awaits today's ICC decision. China, the
African Union and the Arab League have warned the warrant could destabilize the
region, worsen the Darfur conflict and threaten an already troubled peace deal
between north Sudan and the semi-autonomous south. Some Western embassies have
also warned their citizens of the potential for violent protests if Bashir is
charged. Darehshori hailed Nobel Laureate
Desmund Tutu's call for African leaders to support the warrant against Bashir
over war crimes in Darfur.
"I'm hoping that people will look at
Archbishop Desmund Tutu's statement, which was very important, because a lot of
people have said African leaders, Arab leaders have tried to make the case that
justice is somehow anti-African. And I
appreciate having an African leader like Archbishop Tutu remind African leaders
that the victims are in fact African and that Africa has done a lot of things
to support justice, including voluntarily agreeing to be part of this
institution, the International Criminal Court. They are big supporters of the
court, and on the whole that is the largest region that has signed up for
jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court," Darehshori pointed out.
African Union recently called on the UN Security Council to suspend the arrest
warrant against the Sudanese president contending that workers of international
bodies could be in jeopardy. But Archbishop Tutu
chastised the AU for calling for the suspension, arguing that an arrest warrant
for Bashir would be an extraordinary moment for the people of Sudan.
government is accused of playing a key planning role in the Darfur conflict, which has killed some 300,000 and
displaced 2.5 million civilians over the past five years. If the warrant is granted and an arrest carried out, President Bashir
would become the first sitting head of state to be hauled before the ICC since
the court opened in 2002.
of President Bashir, including some government officials, have condemned hints
confirming realization of the arrest warrant.
The National Security and
Intelligence Chief Salah Gosh recently said that
anyone in Sudan who tries to execute the warrant will have "his hands,
head and parts" cut off.