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ICC Appeals Chamber Directs Re-consideration of Genocide Charges Against President of Sudan

For Immediate Release

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) welcomes today's ruling by the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court which will now open the possibility that the charge of genocide will be added to the existing charges in the warrant for the arrest of Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir.

PHR documented atrocities committed against the people of Darfur in its landmark 2006 report, Assault on Survival: A Call for Security, Justice and Restitution. The report alleges that the Government of Sudan and its proxy militias carried out a “systematic campaign of destruction against specific populations” obliterating thousands of villages, killing, pillaging, plundering, and forcing men, women and children to flee into a “no man's land” which amounted to an “all out assault on the very survival of a population.”

In March 2009, the court's Pre-trial Panel issued a warrant for President Omar al-Bashir's arrest on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. At the time, two of the panel's three judges said they would not add the additional charge of genocide since ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo had not provided sufficient grounds to prove the intent to destroy the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups in Darfur in whole or in part. Today, the Appeals Chamber ruled in favor of the Prosecutor's appeal that the evidentiary standard used by the Pre-trial Panel was higher than needed at the arrest warrant stage. The Chamber stated that it had ruled on a question of procedural law, not on whether Bashir was, or was not, responsible for genocide.

PHR called on all nations to comply with the existing warrant for the arrest of President al-Bashir and three other alleged war criminals in Sudan with outstanding warrants issued by the Court. The current charges against al-Bashir are extremely grave: for crimes against humanity on counts of murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture and rape, as well as for war crimes on counts of pillaging and intentionally attacking civilians.

“The many victims of these atrocities — the hundreds of thousands who have died, as well as those who struggle to survive as refugees in camps for the displaced or in hiding — deserve nothing less than the international justice promised by the UN Security Council and the many African countries that are party to the ICC Statute,” stated Frank Donaghue, PHR's CEO.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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