15 July 2008
The Indictment of the Sudanese President:
A Milestone on the Path towards Justice for the Peoples
Of the Arab World
The League of Arab States should urge Al-Bashir to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC), and warn him against taking revenge at his people
The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) welcomes the request filed by the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to the pre-trial chamber of the ICC for the issuing of an arrest warrant for the Sudanese President, Omar Al-Bashir. The evidence available to the Prosecutor is deemed sufficient to charge Al-Bashir, among others, of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against the Sudanese people in
CIHRS views this development as a significant step towards limiting the impunity exercised by government regimes in the Arab world; and one of the strongest attempts to bring justice to the victims of the atrocities perpetrated by the Sudanese army and the Janjaweed militias in the
Atrocities committed by government supported Janjaweed militias and governments forces, have been responsible for the death of more than 300,000 people, the displacement of more than 3 million Sudanese to places inside and outside of Sudan, the brutal rape of thousands of women and children, and the burning down of hundreds of villages throughout Darfur.
Such atrocities have been committed with almost total immunity from governmental prosecution, and often with the active support and coordination of governmental officials.
CIHRS stresses that prosecuting the perpetrators of such crimes wherever they are and bringing them to justice is a necessary milestone for establishing peace in
Sudan and putting an end to the growing retaliatory attacks carried out by various armed groups in
Darfur. CIHRS is confident that the judicial proceedings of the ICC, unlike the judicial systems of various regimes within the Arab region, conform to the highest standards of fairness and due process.
As such, President Al-Bashir will be afforded a legitimate and fair judicial process in which he may plead not guilty and be acquitted of all charges if the evidence to prove his guilt is not highly convincing.
CIHRS underlines the responsibility of the Sudanese authorities for the impasse they are now in. The Sudanese regime has refused to use its own judicial system to hold those who committed atrocities in
Darfur accountable, and have failed to cooperate with the ICC and to respond to the request, dated April 2004, to surrender two suspects, namely, Ahmad Harun, State Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Ali Kushayb, the former Janjaweed leader. These two individuals have not even been tried before national courts.
For five years, the Sudanese government has refused to implement the report of the League of Arab States concerning Darfur, and has continually attempted to frustrate and manipulate all international efforts to begin to provide protection to victims in
Darfur, including efforts by both the African Union and the United Nations. It has stalled the deployment of the United Nations and the African Union Peace-keeping forces and greatly increased the suffering of the Sudanese people by disrupting and obstructing the work of humanitarian agencies or supporting militias that commit assaults against relief missions and staff.
Meanwhile, some responsibility rests also on the shoulders of governments and individuals throughout the Arab region, as well as international actors, mainly China and Russia, who have provided forms of political, material and military support to the Sudanese regime at the expense of the human rights victims in Darfur, including aiding the Sudanese regime to evade their international obligations toward peace, justice and human rights.
CIHRS is concerned about the likely retaliatory actions that might be carried out and/or organized by the Sudanese government against innocent civilians and aid workers, and that may escalate armed conflict in
Darfur and, thus exacerbate the five-year humanitarian tragedy that has been occurring in this region.
In this context, CIHRS calls upon the League of Arab States and Arab governments to urge the Sudanese leaders to put, for once, the interests of the Sudanese people first. CIHRS appeals to the international community to act through the AU and UN in order to fulfill their responsibility to prevent further atrocities from taking place in Darfur by providing protection to the civilian population in
CIHRS is well aware of the many challenges to international justice, given the double-standards that exist within the policies of the Security Council, including the immunity provided to perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in places such as
None-the-less, the rule of law and international justice must be supported and advocated for in all incidences in which atrocities and war crimes have been committed.
It is worthy to note that many within the Arab region seeking or advocating for the immunity of Sudanese officials accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity were highly supportive of the International Tribunal of Yugoslavia’s prosecution of President Slobodan Milosevic, who was tried for war crimes, massacres and the collective rape of Muslims and non-Muslims in Kosovo, Bosnia, Herzegovina and Croatia.
The same crimes have been committed and supported by Sudanese officials within
Darfur against the regions population, the majority of which are Muslim. Unless the governments and people of the Arab region support international justice for crimes committed in Darfur, then their arguments in support of international justice for crimes committed in
Palestine become much less convincing.
Those who truly seek the creation of international accountability mechanisms must support every initiative taken to reduce the impunity of blatant and mass violations of international law. CIHRS appeals to the citizens of the Arab region to view the indictment of the President of Sudan as an important step toward eliminating international immunity for repressive regimes and war criminals throughout the world.