International Criminal Court in The Hague issues arrest warrant for leader of Sudan

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Al-Bashir listens to a speech during the opening of the 20th session of The New Partnership for Africa's Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan. 31, 2009.
Image: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class, Jesse B. Awalt.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands has ordered the arrest of the president of the African country of Sudan, Omar Hassan al-Bashir. The warrant was issued by the ICC for seven charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes, in the Darfur region of the country.

In the ruling, the ICC said that al-Bashir was "intentionally directing attacks against an important part of the civilian population of Darfur, Sudan, murdering, exterminating, raping, torturing and forcibly transferring large numbers of civilians and pillaging their property". The ruling added that there was not enough evidence to charge him with genocide. A few hours after its ruling, the Sudan revoked six foreign aid agency licenses, but did not state why.

The ICC has never before issued an arrest warrant for a head-of-state while they were still in power. In the nearly six-years that the Darfur region has been engaged in battle, over 300,000 people have been killed, or died as a result of the fighting. Countless millions have fled the country, seeking shelter in refugee camps.

During a rally protesting the decision on Wednesday, Al-Bashir spoke, calling the charges worthless and told the ICC to "eat" the warrant. "[It is] not worth the ink it is written on. It is a flawed decision". Egypt says it is also not in favor of the warrant and the government states it will ask the United Nations Security Council to stop the implementation of it.

The Human Rights Watch, a human rights organization located in the United States, in New York "the International Criminal Court has made Omar al-Bashir a wanted man", welcoming the warrant.