International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Sudan President Eludes Arrest

According to an article covering the unrest in Darfur, crimes charged by the ICC of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes have eluded the president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir. Although the ICC has issued two warrants for al-Bashir’s arrest in 2009, he is still involved as a high-ranking governing figure. Sudan even had the audacity to send the president to attend a UN general assembly meeting despite the severity of his charges. Not only does the Sudanese government protect Bashir, but also neighboring countries that have been asked to arrest him by the ICC have neglected these orders.

The UN estimates that the growing conflict in Darfur has killed 300,000 people and has made 2 million people uproot and leave their homes. The Sudanese government, however, puts the death toll near 10,000. These devastating numbers that represent heinous crimes are now being dropped due to the fact that the ICC has to move their focus to more pressing and tangible cases because that the arrest of Bashir hasn’t moved at a fast enough pace.

I think that the suspension of Omar al-Bashir’s case is a huge issue that the ICC has created. Not only does it not fulfill the justice that the victim and victim’s families in Darfur deserve, it also gives power to the African Union to abuse the ICC and to any other country leaders that perform atrocity crimes in the future. Since genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes can’t get a president arrested in some countries, then the ICC should probably rethink how they can get a more cooperative involvement in their search for justice.

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2 responses to “Sudan President Eludes Arrest

  1. mtidona February 5, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    This is a prime example of the importance of a good relationship existing between a country and an international court or tribunal. A lack of cooperation from a country’s government with the court can basically render the court ineffective. The court needs the help of the country and its government to capture those accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. However, if the domestic government refuses to help the international court put the accused in custody, then the court cannot do what it was created to do. As a result, its mandate cannot be fulfilled, leading to unsatisfied victims who do not receive the justice they deserve and much criticism centered on the court. As we discussed in class, this issue is also seen with the Rwandan government and the ICTR. In the case of Bashir, the lack of the Sudanese cooperation has spread to other countries, where Bashir conducts official visits without fear of getting turned into the ICC. This is problematic as it further undermines the ICC and its jurisdiction causing the court to not only be ineffective but to also appear illegitimate, lacking the respect of multiple countries. A significant part of this dilemma is that Bashir is still in a position of power, which is the main reason he can evade the arrest warrants of the ICC. This is also seen with the RPF group controlling the Rwandan government, and thus the lack of cooperation on the Rwandan government’s side to help the ICTR prosecute RPF members for war crimes committed during the Rwandan civil war. These two examples highlight the validity of the victor’s justice criticism of the international courts. If “winners” are not held responsible for committing the same types of crimes that “losers” are being punished for, then can this type of “justice” be viewed as legitimate or a success? Is a fall from power the only way to ensure that proper justice is done?

  2. bconroy2015 February 8, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    The first comment brings up the importance of legitimacy for not only the ICC, but really any international justice operation as well. We’ve talked a lot about the concept of victor’s justice in class but the Bashir situation seems to extend beyond that; legitimacy must be maintained in other areas as well. Intertwined in this conflict is the idea of the “Africa bias”- in an article on The Guardian, the Ugandan president Museveni is quoted as calling the ICC a “tool to target the continent”. This is problematic because if more and more African leaders begin to see it this way then cooperation with the ICC and the international justice community as a whole will decline even further. In navigating these delicate situations the ICC has to be able to prosecute the responsible; the winners and losers, and conversely, they have to be able to keep heads of state invested in the accomplishment of justice. A relevant example was the dropping of charges against Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta. What message does this send to the international community? To the victims?

    Also apparent in the Sudan crisis is the lack of cooperation between the UN and the ICC. China, as an ally to Bashir, presents an obstacle on the Security Council, however the UN could be an important tool in galvanizing international support for justice in Sudan.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/14/omar-al-bashir-celebrates-icc-decision-to-halt-darfur-investigation

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