Today, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a second arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir for three counts of genocide. An arrest warrant was first issued for Al Bashir in March 2009 for five counts of crimes against humanity (which includes murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture and rape) and two counts of war crimes (for intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population and pillaging).
While a trial is the only way to determine whether or not Al Bashir is responsible for the crimes he is accused of, this second arrest warrant shows the determination of the ICC to ensure that those who have suffered the most from conflict in Darfur – civilians – have access to justice.
And while President Al Bashir will most certainly continue trying to evade justice and is unlikely to surrender himself in the near future, this new arrest warrant will certainly not make his life any easier. Even since the first arrest warrant was issued, his travel has been heavily restricted as he has been uninvited or at the very least, discouraged from attending many events in foreign countries.
This new arrest warrant, as the very least, reminds us that there is a still a lot to be done to ensure justice for the people of Darfur. That’s why we’re continuing to ask the US government to do all that they can to assist and cooperate with the ICC, especially on the Sudan cases. The Obama administration has stated that it supports international efforts to bring those responsible for genocide and war crimes in Darfur to justice. It’s time to put those words into action.
This coming Saturday, July 17th, the world will be celebrating International Justice Day, which provides us with a great opportunity to remind the US government that international justice should be a priority and to urge support for the ICC’s cases in Sudan. You can also celebrate by participating and hosting a variety of events. The American NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court (AMICC), which AIUSA is a part of, has an extensive list of great ideas for activities you can plan in celebration of International Justice Day.