Monday, July 14, 2008

Genocide Charges at the ICC

For the first time, the International Criminal Court's prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, has brought genocide charges before the Court's investigating judges. The target is Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Moreno-Ocampo's action today also marks the first time a head of state has been charged at the Court.

The situation in Darfur was referred to the ICC by the United Nations Security Council in March 2005 under Resolution 1593 [.pdf]. The ICC was directed to investigate with a view to bringing charges such as those that were filed today, charges that include crimes against humanity and war crimes in addition to the genocide.

In the Summary of the Case [.pdf], Moreno-Ocampo asserts al-Bashir's personal responsibility in the following terms:

AL BASHIR controls and directs the perpetrators. The commission of those crimes on such a scale, and for such a long period of time, the targeting of civilians and in particular the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa, the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators, and the systematic cover-up of the crimes through public official statements, are evidence of a plan based on the mobilization of the state apparatus, including the armed forces, the intelligence services, the diplomatic and public information bureaucracies, and the justice system.

. . .

AL BASHIR controls the implementation of such a plan through his formal role at the apex of all state structures and as Commander in Chief and by ensuring that the heads of relevant institutions involved report directly to him through formal or informal lines. His control is absolute.

The ICC issued arrest warrants last year for two other individuals wanted in connection with crimes in Darfur: Sudan's former interior minister Ahmad Muhammad Harun and militia leader Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-al-Rahman.