The ICC vs Al-Bashir
In an exclusive interview by Hend El-Sayed Hani, International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis-Moreno Ocampo argues his case against the Sudanese president
Did you send a fact-finding mission to Darfur?
Since the start of the investigation into the situation in Darfur, my office has collected statements and evidence during 105 missions conducted in 18 countries, including five missions to Khartoum to meet extensively with representatives of the government and of the judiciary. Throughout the investigation, I have examined incriminating and exonerating facts in an independent and impartial manner.
For the purpose of my office's applications against Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir as well as against Ahmed Harun and Ali Kushayb, we have relied primarily on: witness statements taken from eyewitnesses and victims of attacks in Darfur; recorded interviews of government officials; statements taken from individuals who possess knowledge of the activities of officials and representatives of the government and of the Militia/ Janjaweed in the conflict in Darfur; documents and other information provided by the government upon request of the prosecution; the Report of the UN Commission of Inquiry; the Report of Sudanese National Commission of Inquiry; and other materials obtained from open sources.
What evidence on the involvement of Al-Bashir do you have?
In its application to the court for an arrest warrant on 14 July 2008, my office submitted evidence that Al-Bashir used the entire state apparatus, the Armed Forces and the Militia/Janjaweed. Forces and agents controlled by Al-Bashir attacked civilians in towns and villages inhabited mainly by the target groups, committing killings, rapes, torture and destroying means of livelihood. Al-Bashir thus forced the displacement of a substantial part of the target groups and then continued to target them in the camps for internally displaced persons, causing serious bodily and mental harm -- through rapes, tortures and forced displacement in traumatising conditions -- and deliberately inflicting on a substantial part of those groups conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction, in particular by obstructing the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
In issuing the arrest warrant, the judges found that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Omar Al-Bashir has been the de jure and de facto president of the state of Sudan and commander-in-chief of the Sudanese Armed Forces from March 2003 to 14 July 2008 (the date of the application). They also found that, in that position, Al-Bashir played an essential role in coordinating, with other high-ranking Sudanese political and military leaders, the design and implementation of the government counter-insurgency campaign.
Further, the judges found that there are reasonable grounds to believe: that the role of Omar Al-Bashir went beyond coordinating the design and implementation of the common plan; that he was in full control of all branches of the "apparatus" of the state of Sudan, including the Sudanese Armed Forces and their allied Janjaweed Militia, the Sudanese Police Force, the NISS intelligence service and the Humanitarian Aid Commission; and that he used such control to secure the implementation of the common plan.
Did you receive any help from any Western country to indict Al-Bashir?
My Office conducts its own investigations, in accordance with the Rome Statute. These investigations, focussing in accordance with Prosecution policy on those individuals bearing the greatest responsibility for the most serious crimes, lead to the determination of which cases within a situation will be investigated and prosecuted. It is through this process alone -- following the evidence -- that Al-Bashir was identified for investigation and prosecution.
Generally speaking, member states of the ICC Statute, of which there are 108 from all regions of the world, including 30 from Africa, have an obligation to cooperate with the court in accordance with the statute.
Why weren't similar measures taken against the Israeli government for its atrocities in Gaza where it used phosphorous weapons against civilians that are banned internationally? Also the massacres going on in Congo and Sri Lanka? And against former US president George W Bush who committed crimes against humanity in Afghanistan and Iraq?
In fact, the very first investigation that I opened in my position as prosecutor focussed on the grave crimes committed in the Congo -- today, three accused have been arrested and surrendered to The Hague and one trial has already started.
In the case of Iraq, we did analyse the activities of nationals of 25 States Parties involved in Iraq.
I also received more than 300 communications related to the situation in Gaza, and met with representatives of the Palestinian National Authority who lodged a declaration under Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute accepting the jurisdiction of the court. As per normal practice, my office is considering all information, including open sources, and is carefully examining all relevant issues related to the jurisdiction of the court, including whether this declaration meets statutory requirements and whether the alleged crimes fall within the category of crimes defined in the Statute.
Similarly, we are monitoring situations in Afghanistan, Kenya, Colombia, and Georgia.