Justice Prevails In Sudan; Dictator Omar al-Bashir To The ICC
Sudan will extradite longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court, as well as other officials who are suspected of crimes against humanity. In particular, they will be tried for their crimes during the Darfur conflict, according to Foreign Minister Mariam al Mahdi.
Omar al-Bashir's Crimes
ICC has been seeking Omar al-Bashir for more than a decade on charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity committed in the Sudanese region. The United Nations says 300,000 people were murdered and 2.5 million displaced in the Darfur conflict, which exploded in 2003. The Darfur conflict broke out when non-Arab rebels took up arms complaining of systematic discrimination by Bashir's Arab-dominated regime. The regime responded by unleashing the infamous Janjaweed militia. Bashir and his former aides unleashed scorched earth policy, raping, killing, looting, and burning villages. Omar al-Bashir terrorized Sudan for more than three decades and ruled in an extreme totalitarian manner.
In 2019, Omar al-Bashir was ousted by the military and detained in April after four months of mass nationwide protests after he tripled the price of bread. The dictator was convicted in December of 2019 for corruption and has been on trial in Khartoum since July 2020 for the Islamist-backed 1989 coup which brought him to power. The dictator is now behind bars in Khartoum's Kober prison where he awaits his fate for his crimes. He faces the death penalty if found guilty.
Previously, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Bashir in 2009 for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. He was again issued a warrant for genocide the following year but kept traveling abroad defying the court's orders and international law. In 2020, a senior Janjaweed militia leader Ali Muhammad Ali Abd al-Rahman, also known as Ali Kushayb, surrendered to the ICC. He would be the first suspect to be tried over the Darfur conflict, facing 31 counts including murder, rape, and torture.
Out with the old, in with the new
According to FM Mahdi the "cabinet decided to hand over wanted officials to the ICC," The decision to hand over al-Bashir and others came during a visit to Sudan by ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan. The chief prosecutor requested Omar al-Bashir's extradition along with other wanted officials. Sudan's attorney general Mubarak Mahmoud said in a meeting with ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan that his office was ready to cooperate "with the ICC in all cases, especially the victims of the Darfur war, in order to bring justice to them". The handover of wanted officials will be addressed between the cabinet and the ruling sovereign council comprised of military and civilian leaders for final approval.
The new government had previously struggled to hand over Omar al-Bashir due to Sudan not being a party to the ICC's Rome Statute. However, Sudan's cabinet voted to ratify the Rome Statute just a week ago, which opened the gate for extradition.
Sudan has been led since August 2019 by a transitional civilian-military administration, that has vowed to bring justice to victims of crimes committed under Bashir. The government also signed a peace deal in October 2020 with prominent Darfuri rebel groups, with some of their leaders taking top jobs in government. In July 2021, a peacekeeping force finally completed its withdrawal from the region.
The responsibility to provide security and policing now befalls the transitional government, a task that will not be easy in a region scarred by extreme violence washed with automatic weapons and poverty. Amid the arid region and the challenges that lay ahead, Sudan is taking proactive measures to ensure a better future for itself, starting with ensuring justice.