Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir

18.11.2015 ( Last modified: 14.06.2016 )
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facts

Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir was born on 1 January 1944 in Hosh Bannaga in Sudan, 100 km northeast of Khartoum.

After completing his secondary education, Omar Hassan Al-Bashir was admitted as a pilot into the military academy. He graduated in 1967 and then served in the Air Force, before being transferred to the infantry brigade. In the early 1980s, he obtained two masters degrees, including one in Malaysia. He was also awarded a fellowship of the Sudanese Academy of Administrative Sciences in 1987.

Omar Hassan Al-Bashir was put in command of the 8th Brigade in 1988 and led the military operations against the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in the southern half of the country.

On 30 November 1989, Al-Bashir led a group of army officers in ousting the coalition government of Sadeq Al-Mahdi, which had been in office since 1986. He headed the transition government before being appointed president of the country on 16 October 1993.

Al Bashir is accused of masterminding and implementing a plan to destroy in substantial part the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa groups, on account of their ethnicity. Members of the three groups, historically influential in Darfur, were challenging the marginalization of the province; they engaged in a rebellion.

Since 2003, armed forces and the Militia/Janjaweed, allegedly on Al Bashir’s orders, have attacked and destroyed villages and subsequently pursued the survivors in the desert. Those who reached the camps for the displaced people were subjected to conditions calculated to bring about their destruction.

Al Bashir allegedly promoted and provided impunity to his subordinates in order to secure their willingness to commit genocide. He allegedly mobilised the entire state apparatus, including the armed forces, the intelligence services, the diplomatic and public information bureaucracies, and the justice system, to subject the 2.450.000 people living in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs), most of them members of the target group, to conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction. He is also accused of obstructing international assistance and of organizing well coordinated attacks on the IDP camps.

On 14 July 2008, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court presented evidence showing that Al Bashir committed the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur.

legal procedure

On 14 July 2008, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) requested that an arrest warrant be issued against Al-Bashir for his alleged involvement in genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Darfur region between March 2003 and July 2008.

On 4 March 2009, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I issued an arrest warrant against Al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur. This was the first time that the ICC had issued an arrest warrant against a head of state.

The arrest warrant that was issued against Al-Bashir contained a total of 7 charges, 5 of which were for crimes against humanity (murder, extermination, forced transfer, torture and rape), and 2 charges were for war crimes (intentionally directing attacks against civilians who did not directly participate in the hostilities and looting).

The ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I considered the acts of violence that were committed in Darfur to be part of a plan organised at highest level of State authority. Al-Bashir is suspected of criminal involvement, either directly or indirectly, in intentionally directing attacks against a large number of civilians in Darfur. These crimes were committed during the counter-insurgency campaign that began in April 2003, orchestrated and led for five years by the government of Sudan against the rebel movements that were present in Darfur, specifically the Sudan Liberation Movement / Army and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

The ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I dismissed the charges for genocide given that there was not sufficient evidence or reasonable motive to believe that the Sudanese government acted with intention to destroy, in part or completely, the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups.

On 6 July 2009, the prosecutor appealed against this decision because an arrest warrant for the charge of genocide had not been issued.

On 3 February 2010, the appeals Chamber resent the case file to the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I for it to be looked into again.

On 12 July 2010, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I issued a second arrest warrant against Al-Bashir, as there was reason to believe that he was responsible for three charges of genocide committed against the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups:

Genocide by killing members of the group (article 6a of the Rome Statute)
Genocide by causing serious bodily or mental harm to member of the group (article 6b of the Rome Statute)
Genocide by deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part (article 6c of the Rome Statute)
This second arrest warrant neither replaced nor revoked the first arrest warrant issued on 4 March 2009, which remains in place.

In December 2014, the ICC Office of the Prosecutor called for the United Nations Security Council to do all within its power to arrest Al-Bashir and bring him to court. It also advised the UN Security Council that due to having limited resources and having several cases open, the investigation into Al-Bashir was suspended in order to prioritise other open cases. The office of the Prosecutor highlighted that the case against Al-Bashir would remain suspended but could be prioritised again at any time if there was any change in circumstance.

The ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I took the opportunity to remind certain member states (Chad, Malawi, DRC and Sudan) of the Rome Statute and of their obligation to cooperate with the ICC, and in particular of their obligation to arrest Al-Bashir and bring him to court if he were to travel to their territory.

When Al-Bashir travelled to South Africa between 13 and 15 June 2015, the ICC reminded the South African authorities of their obligation to arrest Omar Al-Bashir and to bring him to court.

PROCEEDINGS IN SOUTH AFRICA

On 13 June 2015, President Al-Bashir arrived in South Africa to participate in the 25th African Union Summit. On 14 June 2015, the NGO “Southern African Litigation Centre” seized the Supreme Court of North Gauteng in Pretoria to require the authorities to carry out the arrest warrant issued by the ICC against Al-Bashir. This request was based on the Rome Statute act no. 27 of 2002, a South African law which sets out the framework to ensure that the Rome Statute is effectively implemented in South African and that national authorities respect their national and international obligations to pursue alleged perpetrators of international crimes. In 2014, the Constitutional Court of South Africa deemed that this law obliged the national police service to pursue and arrest individuals suspected of crimes against humanity.

On 14 June 2015, the Supreme Court issued a temporary order preventing Al-Bashir from leaving South Africa until a decision was made on his arrest. On 15 June 2015, the Supreme Court ordered the arrest of Al-Bashir and his detention before being transferred to the ICC.

Yet, the South African government informed the Supreme Court that Al-Bashir had already left the country, an act which directly violated the ruling of the court on 14 June 2015 which aimed to stop him from leaving the country.

spotlight

The arrest warrants that were issued by the ICC against Al-Bashir were the first to be issued against a President-in-Office, and as such, they represent a significant step forward for international criminal law. They also prove that acting heads of state do not benefit from any form of immunity in the eyes of the ICC.

The South African Supreme Court’s decision to arrest Al-Bashir and transfer him to the ICC headquarters also constitutes a major step forward, despite the refusal of the government to carry out this decision.

context

The conflict in the western Sudanese province of Darfur began in 2003 as tensions surrounding the use of land and water resources exploded between the sedentary tribes (Four, Masalit and Zaghawa, for example) and the nomadic Arab tribes. Two armed rebel groups were created to fight for additional rights for the disadvantaged tribes of African origins. The Sudanese government reacted with massive military operations and by supporting and arming the nomadic Arab militia, the Janjaweed (also known as “Fursan,” “Moujahadeen” and “Bashmerga”) in order to combat these rebels. This led to extremely violent violations of human rights as well as numerous attacks on civilian populations and targets. The report of the United Nations investigative commission on Darfur, published in January 2005, as well as those of numerous NGOs testify to the occurrence of mass executions, mass rapes, the expulsion of the civilian population, the destruction of villages by the Janjaweed, some with the direct support of the Sudanese government, but all with at least its tacit approval. Both sides of the conflict have mainly attacked civilians. It is estimated that 300,000 people have lost their lives since the beginning of the conflict and that more than 2.7 millions have been displaced. During 2008, there were more than 315,000 new internally displaced people and refuges in Eastern Chad.

After a number of unsuccessful negotiations, a peace accord was finally signed on May 5, 2006 in Nigeria with the help of the African Union between the Sudanese government and one of the rebel groups, Minni Minnawi’s Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA). Part of the SLA, led by Abdul Wahid, as well as Khalil Ibrahim’s Justice and Equality Movement refused to sign on to the accord at first, but finally ratified it in June 2006.

However, the situation in Darfur quickly unravelled after the signature of the peace treaty: the rebel groups who had not participated in the accord organized themselves into the National Redemption Front (NRF) and attacked an army stronghold in July 2006. The government responded by sending additional troops to the Darfur region in August of the same year. This led to more violent attacks against civilians by both sides.

Even measures taken by the international community have not succeeded in helping the situation. African Union troops stationed in the Sudnan since the end of August 2006 (AMIS) have not been able to stop the massacres and have themselves been under attack. Through resolution 1706 (2006), the United Nations Security Council authorized the transfer of UN troops (UNMIS) to the region. The Sudanese government refused this movement of personnel. By November 2006, African Union and UN troops joined forces in a hybrid mission which is still in Sudan today.

United Nations’ Security Council resolution 1593 (2005) compelled the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to investigate alleged crimes in the Sudan. This was not well receives in Khartoum. In fact, Sudanese authorities have refused to comply with the ICC’s investigtion even following injunctions to do so by this court. Although the Sudan has not ratified the Rome Statute, it is obliged to comply with the ICC because resolution 1593 was adopted under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter. The day after the investigation began at the ICC, the Sudanese government created the Special Criminal Court on the Events in Darfur. A Human Rights Watch report published in June 2006 claimed that this parallel special court was created solely to derail the ICC investigation by abusing the principle of complimentarity enshrined in Article 17 of the Rome Statute.

Fact Sheet
Name: Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir
Nationality: Sudan
Context: Darfur
Charges: Genocide,War crimes,Crimes against humanity
Status: Other
Judgement Place: ICC
Particulars: Arrest warrant issued by the ICC on 4 March 2009 for seven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes; second arrest warrant issued on 12 July 2010 for three counts of genocide; Investigation into crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide suspended on 12 December 2014.