Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, facing possible arrest in South Africa over an indictment for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court, has eluded justice again.
The controversial Sudanese leader, reportedly granted immunity by the South African government to attend a summit meeting of the African Union in Pretoria, abruptly departed that nation early on June 15 as the country’s High Court was considering a petition by a legal rights group seeking Bashir’s arrest and handover to the ICC. South African authorities declined to detain him despite the court’s order, and he returned to Sudan before the summit’s conclusion. An arrest warrant was issued later that day, but Bashir had already left for Khartoum.
The ICC arrest warrants for Bashir were issued in 2009 and 2010, charging him with responsibility for genocide and other atrocities in his campaign to crush a revolt in Sudan’s Darfur region, a conflict that has killed as many as 300,000 people and displaced 2 million, the United Nations says. Sudan has long rejected the court's authority.
In light of outstanding arrest warrants and ongoing the atrocities in Darfur, the United States is urging the South African government to join the international community in its call for Sudan to cooperate fully with the ICC, as required by UN Security Council resolution 1593. It must also refrain from providing political or financial support to President Bashir and other Sudanese individuals who are subject to ICC arrest warrants in Darfur.
While the United States isn’t a party to the Rome Statute setting out the crimes falling within the ICC’s jurisdiction, we strongly support international efforts to hold accountable those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur.