The International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled Monday that Jordan, as a party to the Rome Statute, was obligated to arrest Sudan’s former leader Omar al-Bashir during his 2017 visit to Amman for an Arab League Summit. The ICC declined, however, to refer Jordan to the Assembly of States Parties or the UN Security Council, reversing the Pre-Trial Chamber’s ruling that such a sanction was necessary.
The ICC has issued two arrest warrants (one in 2009 and another in 2010) for al-Bashir, who was ousted by the Sudanese military in April after 30 years in power. The warrants allege that al-Bashir was involved in “war crimes,” “crimes against humanity,” and “crimes of genocide” during Sudan’s civil conflict in the Darfur region from 2003-2008. The ICC confirmed that, due to the nature of these crimes, al-Bashir did not have the immunity from arrest traditionally accorded to a sitting heads of state and as such Jordan violated its duty to the ICC by failing to arrest him.
The opinion noted that the court had previously declined to refer South Africa, also a party to the Rome Statute, to the UN for its failure to arrest al-Bashir during his 2015 visit to the country, on the grounds that South Africa had consulted with the ICC regarding al-Bashir’s visit. Finding that Jordan had likewise conferred with the ICC, the Court found that “the Pre-Trial Chamber abused its discretion by treating Jordan differently from South Africa in similar circumstances.”