Jordan: Stand with victims, arrest ICC fugitive al-Bashir

Omar al-Bashir (front left) pictured standing with other Arab leaders before the start of the summit © RHC
Wanted for grave crimes in Darfur, Sudanese President should be isolated and arrested at Arab League Summit.

The Hague/New York—Jordanian authorities must arrest International Criminal Court (ICC) fugitive Omar al-Bashir following his arrival in Amman for the 28th League of Arab States Summit, the Coalition for the ICC said today.

“Your government joined the ICC on behalf of the Jordanian people and Jordan is now bound to uphold the unequivocal commitments set out in the Rome Statute to bring to justice perpetrators of crimes that shock the conscience of humanity,” said Coalition Convenor William R. Pace in a letter to His Majesty Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein. “The presence of an ICC fugitive in Amman demeans the reputation of the Kingdom of Jordan as leading state in the advancement of international law in the Arab region. It is Jordan’s legal obligation set out in both the Rome Statute and in UN Security Council Resolution 1593 to fully cooperate with the Court and arrest President al-Bashir without delay.”

“As a signatory to the Rome Statute that set up the ICC, Jordan is obligated to arrest Omar Al-Bashir and hand him over to the court,” said Lynn Maalouf, Director of research at Amnesty International's Beirut regional office. "Failure to arrest him would be a grave violation of the treaty and a betrayal of the hundreds of thousands of victims of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur. The international community must not allow this to happen."

“Jordan’s government has a chance to demonstrate its credibility on accountability and support for justice for victims of mass atrocities by avoiding an al-Bashir visit,” said Elise Keppler, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch. “Al-Bashir belongs in The Hague appearing before the ICC.”

“With al-Bashir enjoying impunity, he is alleged to be continuing to direct crimes in the Nuba Mountains, South Kordofan, Blue Nile State,” said Osman Naway of the Sudanese Rights4Peace Foundation. “The Sudanese government has played a masterstroke in evading accountability by convincing the United States to remove sanctions in return for its cooperation in an Arab coalition fighting terrorism in Yemen, while at the same time driving the campaign accusing the ICC of targeting Africa.”

The Coalition also called on all representatives of states parties to the Rome Statute to avoid contact with al-Bashir. For European Union officials as for EU member states representatives, a specific EU policy on avoiding non-essential contacts is also in effect.

“Non-essential contact with individuals subject to outstanding ICC warrants contravenes the spirit and purpose of the Rome Statute to end impunity for grave crimes and bring justice to victims. It risks lending credibility to suspects at liberty who should instead be in ICC custody and sends a message of indifference and disregard for victims of alleged crimes and their families,” said Pace. “Avoiding contact with persons subject to an ICC arrest warrant is also essential to long-term strategies of arrest. It signals that there should be no ‘business as usual’ with those seeking to evade justice and affirms the integrity of the ICC’s arrest warrants and the importance of cooperation with the Court. Over time, this helps maintain the validity of the arrest warrants and may contribute to the marginalization of individuals that is, at times, a prerequisite to eventual arrest.”

“The ICC represents one of the most significant opportunities to address major and devastating crimes and to contribute to restoration of peace. However, the success of the ICC depends on the strong support of those who brought it into existence: governments,” continued Pace. “To date, the different steps undertaken by the ASP, States Parties or other stakeholders have not proven their effect to this day. The different actions are non-coercive and it has proven difficult to bring States to comply with their obligation under the Rome Statute. President Al Bashir has continued travelling to different states despite the Court’s decisions and the ASP’s efforts. This is not good enough.”

Background

President al-Bashir is subject to two outstanding arrest warrants issued by the ICC in 2009 and 2010 on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide committed in Darfur, Sudan. These arrest warrants resulted from United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 1593 which referred the situation in Darfur to the Court – a situation the Security Council deemed a threat to international peace and security. According to United Nations reports, approximately 300,000 people were killed, and over two million people were forced to leave their homes between 2003 and 2008, as part of the Government of Sudan’s counter-insurgency campaign in Darfur. In authorizing the arrest warrants for al-Bashir, the independent ICC judges agreed that there are substantial reasons to believe al-Bashir is responsible for the alleged crimes.

Assembly of States Parties Resolution ICC-ASP/13/Res.3 of December 17, 2014 urges ICC state parties to “avoid contact with persons subject to a warrant of arrest issued by the Court, unless such contact is deemed essential by the State Party.” While the resolution does not define what constitutes an essential contact, contact for occasions that are ceremonial with individuals subject to outstanding arrest warrants are inconsistent with the concept of essential contacts. Assembly of States Parties Resolution ICC-ASP/13/Res.3 also provides that states parties “may, on a voluntary basis, advise the ICC of their own contacts with persons subject to a warrant of arrest,” which they have deemed to be essential.

Read the full press release here