Sudan: Former president Omar al-Bashir must not escape international justice

Former Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir
Former Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir © APGraphicsBank

Amnesty International is calling for former Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir to face justice for crimes under international law - including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes - that he allegedly committed while in power.

Al-Bashir is set to stand trial on Sunday in Khartoum, where he will be charged with corruption, possessing foreign currency, and receiving gifts illegally.

However, Amnesty is calling for al-Bashir to be handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) as he also stands accused of criminal responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide following the killing, maiming, and torture of hundreds of thousands of people in the Sudanese region of Darfur during his 30 years in power.

Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, said:

“While this trial is a positive step towards accountability for some of his alleged crimes, al-Bashir remains wanted for heinous crimes committed against the Sudanese people.

“The Sudanese authorities must hand al-Bashir over to the International Criminal Court to answer charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Omar al-Bashir has evaded justice for far too long as the victims of horrific crimes still wait for justice and reparations more than a decade since the ICC issued the first warrant for his arrest.

“As military leaders edge closer to inking a long-awaited political agreement with the opposition coalition, the country’s new leadership must urgently ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which the country signed in 2000, and cooperate fully with the court.”

Thirty years of brutal rule

On 11 April this year, the Sudanese military overthrew and detained Omar al-Bashir, after 16 weeks of street protests against his rule.

The ICC issued two arrest warrants for the former Sudanese leader - the first on 4 March 2009, and the second on 12 July 2010.

In 2016, an Amnesty International investigation gathered evidence of the repeated use of what were believed to be chemical weapons used against civilians, including children, by Sudanese government forces in the Jebel Marra region of Darfur. The scale of these attacks, which may also amount to war crimes, is equivalent to those previously investigated by the ICC Prosecutor.

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