Sudan to hand ex-dictator Bashir over to ICC on Darfur war crimes charges

Sudan to hand ex-dictator Bashir over to ICC on Darfur war crimes charges
Omar al-Bashir is wanted by the ICC on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
4 min read
11 February, 2020
Bashir was overthrown by the military in April last year [Getty]
Sudan has agreed to hand former dictator Omar Al-Bashir over to the International Criminal Court where he is wanted on charges of war crimes and genocide over the Darfur conflict.

Bashir will be sent to The The Hague to appear before the court alongside four other Sudanese wanted by ICC, Information Minister Faisal Saleh indicated on Tuesday.

The bombshell decision comes amid peace negotiations with rebel groups from war-torn Darfur in the South Sudanese capital Juba.

Peace talks have been underway between a delegation from the Sudanese transitional sovereign council and rebel groups from the conflict zones of Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan since October last year.

While a number of preliminary agreements have been made with various parties, a lasting truce has yet to be reached due to a number of contentious issues such as transitional justice and secular governance. 

But renewed negotiations between Khartoum and Darfur rebel factions appeared to reach a breakthrough on Tuesday.

The rival parties have agreed to the appearance of indicted Sudanese before the ICC, Saleh told Reuters.

While the information minister did not name Bashir, only five Sudanese are currently wanted by the court.

The Hague formerly indicted Bashir on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide over the Darfur conflict in 2005.

With the issuance of arrest warrants by the ICC in 2009 and 2010, he became the first sitting head of state to be sought by an international court.

Around 300,000 people were killed over the course of the Darfur conflict and more than 2 million displaced, according to the United Nations.

Bashir has been held in the Kobar prison in the capital Khartoum since his overthrow by the military in April last year.

Previous statements by transitional government officials including sovereign council leader General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan had indicated that the former dictator would not go before The Hague until at least 2022.

Bashir was sentenced to two years in a social reform facility late last year on charges of corruption.

Under Sudanese law, a person over-70 cannot go to prison. His sentence was also reduced due to old age, prosecutors said. 

He also awaits charges related to the 1989 coup that brought him to power, as well as the killing of protesters over the course of his rule. 

Who else could go before the ICC?

Alongside Bashir, the ICC also indicted Ahmed Haroun, Ali Kushayb, Abdallah Banda and Abdel Rahim Mohammed Hussein for war crimes in Darfur.

A former high-ranking minister and state governor, Haroun is coordinated, funded and armed the counter-insurgency campaign in Darfur.

Crucially, he is accused of organising and arming the Janjaweed, a state-sponsored Arab militia accused of genocide and mass rape, among other war crimes.

Haroun was the leading of the former ruling National Congress Party before Bashir's overthrow in April last year, when he was arrested by authorities. 
[Click to enlarge]

Both Bashir and Haroun were among 51 former Sudanese officials against whom the country's prosecutor-general opened a Darfur war crimes probe late last year.

Kushayb was a senior commander of the Janjaweed accused of ordering killings, rapes and looting by the ICC.

Although he was arrested by the Sudanese government in 2008, he was later released and his current location is unclear.

Hussein - a former interior minister, minister of defence and governor of Khartoum state - was charged with 20 counts of crimes against humanity and 21 counts of war crimes by the ICC in 2011.

A close ally of Bashir, he is accused of recruiting, arming and funding forces involved in the conflict, including the Janjaweed. Hussein was arrested last year following Bashir's overthrow.

Banda was the commander-in-chief of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), a rebel group operating in Darfur.

He was officially charged with three counts of war crimes - violence to life, pillaging and attacking peacekeepers - in 2011 and his arrest warrant issued by the ICC in 2014. Banda is considered at-large by the court.

While millions of Sudanese protested against Bashir's regime, handing him over to the ICC is a highly contentious matter.

Some Sudanese view the Hague-based court as a "colonial" enterprise that only targets African leaders and would prefer their former dictator face justice at home.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay connected