International

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Burhan Ozbilici/AP
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir

ICC Moves to Arrest Sudanese President, But Will it Help?

July 14, 2008 06:59 AM
by Cara McDonough
The International Criminal Court is expected to seek Omar al-Bashir’s arrest Monday for war crimes committed in Darfur. Experts are divided on the arrest’s effect.

30-Second Summary

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Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo issued a statement July 10 announcing that he would be submitting evidence “on crimes committed in the whole of Darfur over the last five years” and then publicly “summarise the evidence, the crimes and name individual(s) charged.”

Legal experts as well as human rights activists say they expect Moreno-Ocampo to name Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. The warrant would make him the first sitting president indicted by ICC for genocide.

Reports out of Sudanese capitol Khartoum say security is being stepped up in anticipation of Monday’s announcement.

The humanitarian crisis in Darfur began in 2003 as rebel groups in the region began to clash with government forces over the allocation of natural resources. Since then, rebel groups have fought against the national army and the Janjaweed, an Arab militia that has reportedly targeted civilians and that many accuse of being funded by the government.

The UN believes that between 200,000 and 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur and 2.5 million have been made homeless since 2003.

Some analysts see Bashir’s potential indictment as a positive measure that could increase pressure on the president to change government policies in Darfur. Others worry the move could disrupt peacekeeping efforts in the region. “One cannot overestimate the implications of such a move on the situation in Darfur,” said Issaka Souare, a researcher at the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa. “It will … make it difficult for mediators to engage the Sudanese authorities who are already reluctant to cooperate on certain issues with the mediator.”

Headline Link: Court Will Likely Seek Arrest of Sudanese President

Background: Crisis in Darfur

Opinion & Analysis: Will an arrest help or hurt?

Key Players: Omar al-Bashir; International Criminal Court

Reference: Facts behind the situation in Darfur

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