Judges at the International Criminal Court have decided to issue an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan, brushing aside diplomatic requests to allow more time for peace negotiations in the conflict-riddled Darfur region of his country, according to court lawyers and diplomats. […]
The decision to issue a warrant against him, reached by a panel of judges in The Hague, has been conveyed to the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, and is expected to be formally announced at the court, officials at the United Nations said.
The precise charges cited by the judges against Mr. Bashir have not been disclosed. But when the court’s chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, first requested an arrest warrant in July, he said he had evidence to support charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide related to a military campaign that “purposefully targeted civilians” and had been “masterminded” by Mr. Bashir.
Lawyers familiar with the case said the court had already sought to freeze the president’s assets but had found his possessions to be hidden behind other names.
This news is still developing, but Reuters corroborated:
“The ICC decided it wants him arrested,” a diplomat at the United Nations told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Some U.N. officials also said they understood that to be the decision by the ICC, based in The Hague. They said it had been widely expected and would be made public later this month.
Reuters also notes the reaction of two international diplomats:
Britain’s Africa minister, Mark Malloch Brown, spoke to reporters on Tuesday as if an ICC indictment of Bashir had already been decided. He also expressed the hope the fragile peace process would continue.
“We will face a very difficult situation after this indictment, and I just hope people of goodwill will go on trying to find ways forward,” Malloch Brown said.
Sudan’s U.N. ambassador, Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem, dismissed the decision of the court.
“It will mean nothing to us and doesn’t deserve ink with which it is written,” he told Reuters. “We will never be shaken by this criminal attempt to pollute our political life and sabotage our efforts for development and peace.”
The Save Darfur Coalition and partners issued a statement today, urging
Sudanese authorities to comply with their obligation to cooperate with the court. The organizations also urged the U.S., the U.N., and the international community to take all necessary steps to ensure the protection of civilians, aid workers and peacekeepers in Darfur, and to focus renewed diplomatic efforts on building a lasting and inclusive peace for all of Sudan.
This is a crucial moment for Darfur, so please send a message to President Obama asking him to make clear that the U.S. will not stand for retribution from Khartoum and to immediately appoint a high-level official with the stature, mandate and authority to be the U.S. point person on Sudan—and bring an end to the genocide.
Finally, check out UN Dispatch for a very important “background” video.