[JURIST] The Arab League [official website, in Arabic], African Union (AU) [official website] and others have criticized the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] prosecutor's Monday application [JURIST report] for an arrest warrant [application, PDF] for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [BBC profile, JURIST news archive]. Al-Bashir is facing charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes for atrocities committed in the country's Darfur region [JURIST news archive], but critics of the indictment say that it threatens to destabilize the region and poses a risk to joint AU-UN peacekeeping forces in the country. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has responded to the criticism by encouraging Sudan to comply with ICC efforts [BBC report], but said that he has no control over ICC indictments [UN News Centre report]. The charges against Al-Bashir mark the first time a sitting head of state has been charged with genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity by the ICC. The Daily Monitor has more. AFP has additional coverage.
The Sudanese government has already rejected the ICC's jurisdiction and has refused to surrender two previously-named war crimes suspects [JURIST report]. Hundreds of thousands of people have allegedly been killed in Darfur by Sudanese military and janjaweed [Slate backgrounder] militia forces. The investigation that resulted in Monday's charges, which involved more than 100 witnesses in 18 countries, led the ICC's Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno- Ocampo to state before the UN Security Council [official website] in June that evidence shows that the commission of such crimes on such a scale, over a period of five years, and throughout Darfur, has required the sustained mobilization of the entire Sudanese state apparatus. The Security Council has repeatedly called on Sudan to comply with the ICC investigation [JURIST], but Sudan has refused to do so, calling Moreno-Ocampo a "terrorist" [JURIST report] and suggesting that he should be removed from office.