ICC chief prosecutor: al-Bashir will be arrested

[JURIST] Chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] on Thursday called for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [case materials; JURIST news archive], saying that he will eventually face trial before the ICC. Last week, the ICC charged al-Bashir with three counts of genocide [warrant, PDF; JURIST report] in relation to the Darfur conflict [BBC backgrounder]. The genocide charges were added to seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity that were filed against al-Bashir [JURIST report] in March 2009. Al-Bashir is in Chad to take part in a meeting of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) [official website], and the visit is his first to an ICC member state since the warrants were issued. Ocampo said that al-Bashir remains a threat to the security of the region [NTDT report] and indicated that, if al-Bashir continues traveling to other countries, he will eventually be arrested. Ocampo's call for al-Bashir's arrest echoed calls made earlier in the week by advocacy groups urging Chad to detain al-Bashir. Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Wednesday urged the government of Chad to arrest al-Bashir [JURIST report], contending that because Chad is a party to the Rome Statute [text, PDF], it has an obligation under the statute to execute outstanding arrest warrants issued by the ICC. Prior to his visit, the government of Chad indicated that al-Bashir would not be arrested [AFP report] while he was in the country to take part in the CEN-SAD meetings. During their meeting on Thursday, CEN-SAD refuted the charges against al-Bashir [DB/MMN report], saying that the situation in Darfur remains of great concern but that the accusations against al-Bashir will not help to bring peace to the region.

The recent charges against al-Bashir come after the appeals chamber reversed a prior decision [JURIST report] by the lower chamber denying the prosecutor's request for genocide charges. ICC prosecutors appealed the decision [JURIST report] not to charge al-Bashir with genocide in July 2009. The appeals chamber found that the standard of proof applied by the lower chamber had been too high, and that there only needed to be a showing of reasonable grounds of a genocidal specific intent, a showing that had been met when the first arrest warrant was issued. The warrant issued last week alleges that the Sudanese government, using the national armed forces, police and the Janjaweed militia [BBC backgrounder], targeted ethnic groups for extermination that were believed to be close to armed opposition groups in Darfur as part of a counter-insurgency strategy, and that as commander-in-chief of Sudanese forces, Bashir "played an essential role in [its] coordinati[on]." Al-Bashir has eluded arrest since the issuance of the first warrant. The warrant has been controversial, with Egypt, Sudan, the African Union and others calling for the proceedings against Bashir to be delayed, and African Union leaders agreeing [JURIST reports] not to cooperate with the warrant.

 

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