Has the ICC decided to issue an arrest warrant for Sudan's Bashir?
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The Palestinian Authority continues to press the court to do so – with some 200 requests. Yet such an act is widely seen as dubious in legal circles. Neither Israel nor the Gaza entity is a signatory to the ICC. To investigate Israel for the Gaza attacks, the ICC would have to recognize Gaza as a state; moreover, both the prosecutor and the court would have to agree that it has jurisdiction in Gaza by such recognition.Skip to next paragraph
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Regarding the Bashir case, Monitor sources and news reports suggest it is virtually certain that the three pre-trial judges at the ICC agree there is enough evidence to try Bashir on war crimes and crimes against humanity. But there may be a disagreement on the fraught charge of genocide.
Proving “genocide” in a court of law is a high hurdle, requiring proof of “specific intent.” This may in fact represent a technical reason why the ICC now claims that no arrest indictments are ready.
Le Monde correspondent Philippe Bolopion, at the UN, citing diplomats there, says the judges “upheld the first two charges but didn't reach an agreement on the genocide indictment, more complex to prove.” Several sources told Mr. Bolopion that “the ICC judges have not officially made their decision and haven't transmitted it to the UN yet. They haven't even mentioned the date in which the announcement will be made public. Several sources inside the ICC confirm that the arrest warrant will be issued in the next days, presumably before the end of the month.
Ironically, perhaps, it was the UN Security Council that approved a Darfur war crimes investigation in Sudan; but members may not have suspected the ICC would go so far as to indict a sitting president. France has suggested, according to German press sources [DPA], that “the ICC should withhold the arrest warrant if al-Bashir would surrender two senior Sudanese officials charged with the killings in Darfur.”
Many other press reports in the past week have cited quotes from the Sudanese ambassador to the UN saying that the ICC arrest warrants were “expected.”
As the Monitor reported recently, the ICC began its first case at the end of January with the trail of Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga, charged with recruiting 30,000 child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The idea for the court emerged after the relative success of war crimes tribunals in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, with experts hoping that stronger concepts of justice would serve as a soft-power deterrent against heinous acts and genocide.
The court has since moved in fits and starts. Moreno-Ocampo made a splash last summer by indicting Bashir, but most of the ICC's focus so far is on Congo, where little-noticed wars have claimed some 5.5 million lives. Four Congolese alleged warlords are now at The Hague; a joint trial of Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo is expected in several months.