The ICC’s First Tooth
Posted on Mar 4, 2009
The International Criminal Court is getting its teeth, as judges have ordered the arrest of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity—including murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture and rape—marking the first time the ICC has issued a warrant for a sitting head of state.
Many in the international community have seen the ICC as a neocolonial forum for justice against those who don’t have global political might—with cases that focus against countries in the global south—rather than a universal arbiter of wrong and right (such as trying the U.S. or China or Russia, etc.).
The New York Times:
Judges at the International Criminal Court ordered the arrest Wednesday of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan, charging him with war crimes and crimes against humanity for a concerted government campaign against civilians. They did not include the charge of genocide requested by the prosecutor.
In issuing the order, the three judges brushed aside diplomatic requests for more time for peace talks and fears that the warrant would incite a violent backlash in the country. They had taken more than seven months to examine the evidence.
It is the first time the court, which opened in 2002, has sought the arrest of a sitting head of state, though other international war crimes courts have issued warrants for Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia and Charles Taylor of Liberia while they were sitting presidents.
The judges charged Mr. Bashir with five counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture and rape. The two counts of war crimes were for attacks against a civilian population and for pillaging.
A key part of the case against Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir is his alleged participation in the genocide in Darfur.