Four years ago today, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir, President of Sudan, on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity including killings, rape, and torture. On July 12, 2010, Bashir was also charged with three counts of genocide.
PHR investigated the violence in Darfur for which Bashir and others were responsible. The Sudanese government’s attacks on civilians took hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced several million people from their homes. In PHR’s reports Darfur: Assault on Survival and Nowhere to Turn: Failure to Protect, Support and Assure Justice for Darfuri Women, PHR documented the devastating effects of violence on lives and livelihoods as well as the pervasive nature of rape and other forms of sexual violence and the long-term impact of such abuse. Although such extreme violence has lessened in Darfur, Bashir continues to commit grave human rights violations in other parts of Sudan, including Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
The indictment of Bashir is a first step to holding him accountable for mass atrocities, but because the ICC does not have an independent police force it is incumbent upon countries to use their own initiative to arrest Bashir and others with outstanding arrest warrants from the Court. The whereabouts of Bashir are known — and he regularly visits other countries without fear of arrest. Other countries’ shirking of their legal duties to arrest Bashir emboldens him to continue his campaigns against civilians.
PHR and other human rights groups have joined together to campaign for Bashir’s arrest, which would be a first step to providing a measure of justice to his victims. The coalition of organizations is tracking Bashir’s travels, calling upon heads of state to arrest Bashir when he appears on their territory, and urging the United Nations, the United States, and other influential actors to sanction those that give sanctuary to Bashir and his cronies. See BashirWatch.org for more information.