After more than ten years of running, the end is nigh for Sudan’s ousted dictator, Omar al-Bashir who is now staring at his worst nightmare, being handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes, committed during the conflict in Darfur.
On Tuesday, the Transitional Sovereign Council announced that Sudan has agreed to hand over al-Bashir to the ICC to face charges against humanity, war crimes and genocide, that has been hanging over his neck for years.
In 2009, ICC issued an arrest warrant for the Sudanese leader and urged him to surrender himself immediately to face trial.
“The law is clear. President al Bashir must appear before the ICC to defend himself. If he refuses to do so, the Sudanese authorities must ensure that he is arrested and surrendered immediately to the ICC,” said Irene Khan, Amnesty International’s Secretary General then.
Since the darfur conflict started in 2003, it saw more than 300,000 killed, thousands raped, and millions forcibly displaced.
Bashir, however, scoffed at the arrest warrant and managed to evade prosecution for more than a decade while he led the country.
Bashir defiance was celebrated and abetted by African countries who accused the Hague based court of lacking impartiality and focusing too narrowly on African leaders and ignoring worthy cases in the West while pursuing cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Under the Rome Statute, South Africa as an ICC member has an obligation to arrest anyone sought by the tribunal.
Handing him over to the ICC won’t, however, be that simple. As he is already serving three years in jail in Sudan for corrupt dealings, he will only be handed over to the ICC once he completes his jail term. He was sentenced last November.
The decision to hand him over to the ICC, with last week’s overtures to renew relations with Israel, could be seen as Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s bid to have sanctions imposed in 1993 lifted.
The sanctions haves seen Sudan remains on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, after Bashir once hosted Osama bin Laden in the 1990s.
Sudan is not a member of the ICC, but is a signatory of the international conventions on genocide.