The ICC pre-trial chamber today released a statement:
NOTING the “Prosecution’s Application under Article 58” (“the Prosecution Application”) filed by the Prosecution on 14 July 2008 in the record of the Darfur situation, whereby a request was made for the issuance of a warrant of arrest against Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir (referred to hereinafter as “Omar Al Bashir”) for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes;1
NOTING the supporting material and other information submitted by the Prosecution;
NOTING articles 58 and 68 of the Rome Statute (“the Statute”);
CONSIDERING that there have been numerous rumors over the past weeks on a possible date and outcome of the decision that this Chamber shall issue on the Prosecution Application; that the Chamber is deeply concerned about such rumors; and that it will publicly issue the said decision on the date set out in the present decision
FOR THESE REASONS
DECLARES that the decision of the Chamber on the Prosecution Application shall be issued on 4 March 2009 and filed publicly on the same date.
UN Dispatch has some brief, interesting analysis:
So why make the date public? The court says it is doing so out of concern of rumors (promulgated by the New York Times) that a decision has already been made to issue the arrest warrant. The court denies that this is the case.
Now that the court has set a firm date, look out for reprisals on internationals in Darfur. The Sudanese government is widely expected to disrupt on-going UN humanitarian and peacekeeping work Darfur in response to the arrest warrant. Those of us who have been championing ICC action in Darfur should understand that the pursuit of justice may come at the expense of near-term humanitarian concerns. That said, over the long run the court can be a useful tool and help create the conditions in which a lasting peace can take hold.