In a decision today, the International Criminal Court’s Pre-Trial Chamber I issued a second arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. The arrest warrant adds three counts of genocide to the previous warrant’s charges for crimes against humanity and war crimes.
In March 2009, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for President Bashir on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes, the first such warrant for a sitting head of state. Though the initial warrant decision rejected the Prosecutor’s genocide charges, the ICC’s Appeals Chamber reversed the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision and sent the case back to the Pre-Trial Chamber for review. Upon reconsideration and use of the Appeals Chamber’s mandated standard of proof, the Pre-Trial Chamber has determined that,
there are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Al Bashir acted with specific intent to destroy in part the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups.
President Bashir remains at-large. The genocide charge is one among many steps required to bring the Sudanese president to justice for his role in the crimes against Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa ethnic groups in Darfur. The United States government must continue to support the ICC’s case in Sudan, and work with the United Nations Security Council to ensure the fulfillment of all outstanding arrest warrants in the case of Darfur..
However, the United States government must also work with the international community to ensure that the Sudanese government does not use the ICC’s most recent arrest warrant as an excuse for renewed conflict in Sudan. We cannot permit a similar humanitarian catastrophe to that which occurred in March 2009, when the Sudanese government expelled several aid agencies from Darfur. The United States government must be prepared to leverage pressure against the Sudanese regime to ensure that such a crisis does not occur.
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“there are reasonable grounds to believe [Omar al-Bashir] responsible for three counts of genocide committed against the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups, that include: genocide by killing, genocide by causing serious bodily or mental harm and genocide by deliberately inflicting on each target group conditions of life calculated to bring about the group’s physical destruction.”
Update: The State Department has responded to the ICC’s second arrest warrant for President Bashir. In a press briefing yesterday, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said that President Bashir should appear for trial at the Hague:
We continue to support this process. We have, in our previous discussions with Sudanese officials, strongly encouraged Sudan to cooperate fully with the ICC. Scott Gration, who will be leaving for the region later this week, has repeatedly told Sudanese officials that at some point, President Bashir has to present himself to the ICC and be held to account. And he will reiterate that message when he meets with Sudanese officials later this week.
Update II: The Genocide Intervention Network has compiled a helpful summary of the central issues related to the ICC’s arrest warrant. The Save Darfur Coalition has compiled a set of immediate reactions to the ICC’s warrant for President Bashir, as well as responses to the warrant by Sudanese government officials.