A Cautious First Step – Sudan’s Agreement to Hand Bashir to the ICC
Washington, DC- Darfur Women Action Group welcomes the Sudanese interim government’s announcement that they will hand over Omar al-Bashir and other wanted indictees to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The news broke yesterday from the Juba-South Sudan peace talks between the Sudanese interim government delegation and several armed opposition groups, many of whom are from Darfur. Mohamed Hassan al-Taishi, a member of Sudan’s sovereign council, was quoted stating that the interim government has agreed to turn over al-Bashir and three other wanted individuals to the Hague to face trial.
“Justice cannot be achieved if we do not heal the wounds,” said al-Taishi on an interview with BBC radio.
The extradition of these wanted individuals is the most important step toward a breakthrough in the road to stability and transformation of Sudan. However, an announcement alone cannot be the cause for celebration. One must stay vigilant until the extradition has actually been implemented and al-Bashir is physically standing trial at the Hague.
It is worth noting that since taking on its role, the interim government of Sudan has demonstrated neither the political will nor a unified position toward justice for victims and accountability for perpetrators of crimes committed in Darfur. In September of 2019, when the Sudanese Minister of Justice stated that he fully intended to cooperate with the ICC, he was overruled by the head of the sovereign council General al-Burhan, a known close associate of al-Bashir.
Sudanese Prime Minister Hamadouk’s contradictory position on the issue adds a further reason for skepticism. While visiting New York during the UN General Assembly meetings, Hamadouk pleased many Sudanese by joining a diaspora-organized rally that chanted for freedom, peace, and justice near the UN. However, when he landed in France several hours later, he changed his tone and clearly stated that al-Bashir will not be extradited to the ICC in an interview with France24. Such a track record of disorganized, if not disingenuous, statements leaves no room for trusting the interim government of Sudan.
It is also important to re-emphasize the stakes of al-Bashir’s extradition. He, alongside the three other ICC indictees, stands accused of the world’s most heinous crimes – genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Regrettably, these individuals remained fugitive and continued to defy justice while millions of their victims were either killed or held hostage in Internally Displaced Person’s camps.
Although he has been removed from power after thirty years of bloody rule, al-Bashir has yet to be tried for the aforementioned crimes. The people of Darfur cried for justice, peace, and protection, only to see their plight being ignored and their suffering being prolonged. It has been 11 years since the first arrest warrant for al-Bashir issued and 10 years since the second arrest warrant for the crime of genocide, in particular, was issued. It has been more than 17 years since millions of Darfuri people have been driven out of their homes.
Niemat Ahmadi, the founding president of DWAG, states – “Accountability for the perpetrators of such crimes should not be used as a bargaining chip for achieving political gain. Today’s news is good news but it is not a good cause for celebration. The Sudanese government should have agreed to this long ago in their interim declarations and al-Bashir and the others should already be in The Hague by now.”
Sudan cannot be transformed without proper accountability. It is imperative that the interim government acts now and hands over al-Bashir and other indicted criminals to the Hague. The interim government must understand that cooperating with the ICC is an important milestone in the beginning of healing and transformation of Sudan. Such action will only be effective if it is done sooner rather than later.
We, therefore, strongly urge the interim government of Sudan to take swift and practical steps in transferring the criminals to face trial.
We subsequently urge the ICC and ICC member states to take the interim government’s announcement seriously. We urge it to implement the long-pending arrest warrants and to pursue justice for the sake of the victims of the Darfur genocide.
About: Darfur Women Action Group (DWAG) strives to empower and amplify the voices of women, the victims of genocide, and the historically excluded Sudanese. DWAG ultimately hopes to enable them to fight for their rights, to achieve justice, and to equally participate in the transformation of their society.
Niemat Ahmadi, President
Norrie Kurtz, Board’s Chair
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