Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir this week cancelled his trip to New York for the opening session of the United Nations. Bashir was the first sitting head of state to be indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC issued a warrant for Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity in March 2009. The appeals chamber found the pre-trial chamber’s interpretation of the grounds to issue a warrant too narrow and order the chamber to re-consider it’s decision on genocide. In addition to being the first sitting head of state to be indicted at the ICC, Bashir is the first person to have been charged with genocide at the ICC. There are two warrants for Bashir to appear at the ICC.
Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya, and Deputy President of Kenya, William Ruto were charged by the ICC prior to their election to the presidency and deputy presidency. Bashir is charged for his conduct in office, Kenyatta and Ruto are alleged to have committed crimes against humanity prior to their election. The charges against Bashir arise from the situation in Darfur.
Kenyatta and Ruto have appeared at the ICC. Ruto’s trial began this month, Kenyatta’s trial is scheduled to begin later this year. Kenyatta took the unusual step of testifying in his own defense at the confirmation of charges hearing. Bashir has not appeared to face the charges, nor have other members of his government who have been indicted. Major NGOs have often put pressure on other nations to arrest Bashir and send him to the ICC, he has cancelled some trips apparently because of the threat of arrrest.
John L. Fossum, along with former U.S. Ambassdor Robert Flaten, United States District Court Judge John Tunheim, Assistant United States Attorney John Docherty and Professor Barbara Frey of the Human Rights Program at the Institute for Global Studies at the University of Minnesota. Details of the program, registration information, and bios of the speakers are available here.
Topics include the genocide in Rwanda, the International Criminal Court, a History of International Criminal Law, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Speakers will also be addressing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide generally.
Green are the State's Parties of the ICC, Gold represents the states that have signed the treaty but not ratified it.
Vanuatu has now ratified the International Criminal Court (ICC) Treaty, becoming the 120th nation to acceded to ICC jurisdiction. The ICC has jurisdiction to prosecute war crime, crimes against humanity and genocide which occurs within the territory of the nations which have ratified the treaty, or committed by nationals of those nations, or when referred to court by the United Nations Security Council.
The court has ongoing prosecutions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, the Darfur region of Sudan, Ivory Coast, and involving post election violence in Kenya. There are also indictments from Uganda, though none of indictees, all members of the Lord’s Resistance Army have appeared before the court. The court has also issued indictments from Libya, upon referral of the Security Council, though one of the indictees, Muammar Qadafi was killed, and the other two are currently in custody in Libya, and may not be transferred to the court. The past president of Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo has made his first appearance in the court this week, though Ivory Coast is not a signatory to the treaty, it has accepted ICC jurisdiction.
The second Darfur, Sudan case has begun the confirmation of charges hearing at the International Criminal Court (ICC), but without the presence of the accused. Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain (Banda) and Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus (Jerbo) are accused of directing attacks on African Union peacekeepers in 2007. Banda and Jerbo appeared voluntarily before the court and have been under court supervision, but not in custody. The Confirmation of Charges hearing began on December 8th. Banda and Jerbo have received the approval of the court to not attend the hearings, though their lawyers will be in attendance.
In a previous Darfur case, the accused, Bahr Idriss Abu Garda (Abu Garda), appeared voluntarily before the court and had his case dismissed at the Confirmation of Charges stage. Abu Garda was also accused of directing attacks on peacekeeping forces and other war crimes.
The ICC has jurisdiction to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide occurring since 2002 in the territories of the 114 nations that have ratified the ICC treaty, or by their nationals, or in the situations referred to the ICC by the United Nations Security Council. The situation in Darfur is the first case to come to the court at the direction of the U.N. Security Council for the ongoing concerns of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes alleged to be ongoing in Darfur, though Sudan is not a signatory to the ICC treaty.
In addition to the three accused who have appeared voluntarily before the court, the court has publicly issued warrants for the arrest of the President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, the minister of Humanitarian Affairs of Sudan, Ahmad Harun, and the rebel leader Ali Kushayb. The warrant for Bashir was the first public indictment of a sitting head of state by an International Tribunal. The indictments against Banda, Jerbo and Abu Garda were not made public until they appeared before the court. It is not known how many indictments have been issued under seal.