Omar al-Bashir: Was The ICC Right Or Wrong?

It was announced recently that the International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for the Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir.

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The communication came as no great surprise, though much discussion has taken place, both in the media and in political circles, as to whether it was a wise decision, given the circumstances.

Aid agencies, in particular, expressed concern that millions already displaced by the conflicts in Sudan would suffer if al-Bashir expelled them in retaliation for the ICC’s announcement.[1]

As expected, this is exactly what occurred. Yesterday, ten foreign aid agencies were told to leave the country.

Was the arrest warrant, then, a serious mistake on the part of the ICC?

Undoubtedly, the answer to that question has to be: no.

Neither the ICC, nor western governments, can be held responsible for the dastardly acts of Sudan’s crazed leader. There is no doubt of al-Bashir’s culpability. He is guilty of the most vile war crimes.

A known serial killer on the loose with hostages would never be pardoned in exchange for their release. Al-Bashir is the worst kind of serial killer. He must be brought to justice, if the rule of law is not to be mocked by every petty tyrant throughout the world.

One can only hope the suffering of innocents in Sudan, who have already paid dearly, will not further increase due to the wanton brutality of Omar al-Bashir. He must surely be haunted by the eventual capture and trial of Milosevic, Karadzic, and other Bosnian war criminals, some of whom evaded detention for many years.

Al-Bashir’s initial reaction to the news of the warrant was one of disdain and scorn. These are emotions useful to hide an underlying fear.

Two other arrest warrants are presently in force in the region. Two years ago, the ICC issued warrants for the Sudanese Humanitarian Affairs Minister, Ahmed Haroun, and the Janjaweed militia leader, Ali Abdul Rahman.

Let us hope it will not be long before all three are incarcerated at The Hague, awaiting trial, and a comeuppance that is grossly overdue.

[1] “Arrest warrant draws Sudan scorn” BBC, March 5th 2009

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