In the next few weeks, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is expected to hand down its decision about indicting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. Organizations such as the African Union and the Arab League are lobbying the UN Security Council to implement Article 16 of the Rome Statute, which would suspend any deliberations on the case against Bashir for a year with the possibility of an annual renewal.
We need to be wary of using the possibility of International Criminal Court indictments as a carrot and stick in seeking to end the conflict in Darfur. Deferring the case of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir sets up a catastrophic precedent whereby politics dictates the course of justice. Amnesty International has advocated against such interference in the ICC from the court’s inception.
More importantly, we must not forget what Darfuris directly affected by nearly six years of state-sponsored terror want – justice. Tens of thousands of Darfuris have signed petitions asking that the case against Bashir not be deferred. We must listen to them.