A truly big week on the international human rights front.
As everyone knows, International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo applied for an arrest warrant
on Monday for the Sudanese President on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes for his role in the ongoing atrocities against civilians in the Darfur region.
There is lots of background information on the issue. Here is some of it:
- ICC: Good Progress Amid Missteps in First Five Years (Human Rights Watch, July 11, 2008): "The International Criminal Court (ICC) has made notable progress in bringing justice for the worst crimes despite mistakes in policy and practice, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today that assesses the court’s first five years. Human Rights Watch urged greater international support of the ICC to meet the political and financial challenges ahead."
- Sudan and the International Criminal Court: a guide to the controversy (Open Democracy, July 14, 2008): "The request to indict Sudan's president on charges of genocide and war crimes in Darfur is a historic moment in international justice. But is it wise, and will it bring peace in Sudan nearer or destabilise the country further? Alex de Waal presents the many sides of a vigorous debate..."
- The Omar al-Bashir indictment: the ICC and the Darfur crisis (Open Democracy, July 15, 2008): "A decade after 120 states met in Rome in July 1998 to approve a treaty creating the International Criminal Court (ICC), its prosecutor has moved the court to the centre of world attention. The decision of its prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo on 14 July 2008 to charge Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir with genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes is a transformative event for the ICC and for the intractable Darfur war. If The Hague-based ICC's pre-trial chamber confirms the prosecutor's charges, it will mark the court's first indictment of a head of state and its first genocide indictment ..."
- The Pursuit of Justice vs. the Pursuit of Peace (New York Times, July 11, 2008): "But the complexity and fragility of Sudan’s multiple conflicts have led many diplomats, analysts and aid workers to worry that the Sudanese government could lash out at the prosecutor’s move by expelling Western diplomats and relief workers who provide aid to millions of people displaced by the fighting, provoking a vast crisis and shutting the door to vital diplomatic efforts to bring lasting peace. The dueling objectives have exposed a growing tension: between justice and peace, that is, between the prosecution of war criminals and the compromises of diplomacy."
- Prosecuting Sudan's leader (International Herald Tribune, July 15, 2008) : "In the meantime, the indictments may delegitimize the government in the eyes of the Sudanese people, especially the elites in Khartoum. In 1999, after the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslovia issued its arrest warrant for Milosevic, an opposition group called Otpor turned it into a political weapon with the slogan, 'He is finished.' Milosevic lost the elections in 2000. Although other factors contributed to his fall, including lost wars and corruption, the indictments played their part by demonstrating his isolation (...) In the story of the emperor's new clothes, a little boy is the only one who has the innocence to point out that the emperor is naked. The arrest warrants for Bashir reveal to the world what type of regime holds power in Khartoum. They should also push the Security Council to apply real pressure on the Sudanese government. The council and its member states should make Bashir's government an international pariah, imposing sanctions against its leaders and, most important, Sudan's oil exports, which have so effectively insulated the regime. The prosecutor's message might make some people uncomfortable, but that does not mean we should shoot the messenger. This crisis should galvanize the Security Council to take serious action." [written by Richard Goldstone, the former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.]
And, finally, of course, the question many informed and intelligent people I know have been asking themselves: Indicting Sudan's President for War Crimes: Could George Bush be Next? (Jurist, University of Pittsburgh Law School, July 15, 2008): "Many in the international community consider President George W. Bush to be manifestly guilty of war crimes in his conduct of the Iraq War and openly wonder whether he or any in his administration could be held to account for that conduct. Like Sudan, the United States is not a member of the Rome Statute that created the ICC. And, as in the Sudan case, President Bush is a sitting head of state. Yet, the leader of Sudan now finds himself in the ICC's crosshairs. So what about President Bush?"
Labels: criminal law, human rights, international law