Update-Is ICC setting its sights too high in Sudan?
On Friday I wrote that the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor was readying a genocide charge and arrest warrant for Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. It came to pass today. A defiant Khartoum has said it will not bend to the court and has warned of an eruption of violence; the opposition too has said the warrant could threaten peace. Is this a case of justice versus peace and do the two have to be irreconcilable?
Here’s Friday’s blog:
Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court are readying arrest warrants for senior Sudanese officials, possibly even President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, sources at The Hague court have told Reuters. The Washington Post said it understood Bashir would face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.
Would the world’s first permanent international criminal court be wise to take on a serving president? There is a precedent – another war crimes court in The Hague, the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, issued an indictment for Slobodan Milosevic while he was still president.
Milosevic did finally appear before the court to answer the charges, although his trial was cut short by his death. Supporters of that court said bringing top commanders to justice was essential if the Balkans were to find lasting peace.
But Sudan is not Serbia. Sudan expert Alex da Waal has warned that going after Sudanese leaders could embolden rebels in Darfur and reignite conflict. International aid organisations operating in Sudan fear a backlash.
Would it be wiser to work with Sudan’s leaders for peace rather than pursuing them through the courts? And what chance of securing arrests even if warrants are issued?