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The International Criminal Court and the Warrant of Arrest for Sudan's President Al-Bashir: A Crucial Step Towards Challenging Impunity or a Political Decision?

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On 4 March 2009 the Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) held that it was satisfied that there were reasonable grounds to believe that Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir, the president of Sudan, is criminally responsible under Article 25(3)(a) of the Rome Statute as an indirect (co)perpetrator for war crimes and crimes against humanity (but not for genocide). The Chamber issued a warrant for the arrest of Al Bashir making him the third sitting head of state to be charged by an international court following Liberia's Charles Taylor and Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milošević. Since then the ICC has been accused of making a "political decision" and that it is "part of a new mechanism of neo-colonialism". This article examines the ICC's decision against the background of the situation in Darfur. The article concludes that although the ICC decision and warrant cannot be considered political and neo-colonial in nature, the decision and warrant can be criticised as selective. It calls on the ICC to broaden its scope of investigations and for the international community to affirm its support for the ICC and insist that Sudan and other states cooperate fully as required by the United Nations Security Council.

Affiliations: 1: Brunel University, London, UK

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