Wednesday 29 April, 2009
Following the arrest order of Omar Al-Bashir, the President of Sudan on the charges of “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” in Darfur, which was ordered by the International Court of Justice, the Defenders of Human Rights Center has issued a statement, claiming that criminal officials can no longer commit crimes against humanity with impunity. This human rights organization, while claiming that the era of turning a blind eye to pursuing and prosecuting of political leaders for their crimes has come to an end, contends that criminal leaders are unworthy of membership in the human community. The statement issued by the Defenders of Human Rights Center on 29 April 2009 appears below:
In the Name of God
The ruling by the International Court of Justice in issuing an arrest order for the President of Sudan on the charges of “committing war crimes” and “committing crimes against humanity” in Darfur, and the position taken by individuals, governments, and international non-governmental organizations in support or opposition to this development, has created a challenge for the international judicial review process. This ruling issued for a standing head of state sends a clear message that the concept of impunity for heads of state has lost its power and rulers can no longer benefit from immunity from prosecution and criminal pursuit, which are considered to be main tenants of international law, when committing crimes against humanity. As such, the Defenders of Human Rights Center, as an Iranian human rights organization which has been registered internationally, views the actions of the International Court of Justice in ordering an arrest warrant for Omar Al-Bashir in a positive light.
The signing of the mandate of the International Court of Justice in July 1998 in the second session and the accordance of implementation power to this body in July of 2002 promoted hope for humanity in its quest to realize peace and justice. The necessity for creating a court for the trial of those accused of crimes against humanity was felt among those working to ensure peace and justice starting in 1948, when the United Nations adopted the convention on genocide. In the same year, with the approval of Resolution 260 by the general session, the mandate for establishing a court charged with trying those accused of genocide was given to the Commission on International Law. Given that heads of state and state officials have been the main perpetrators of these types of crimes, the mandate of the Commission in this respect faced resistance and stonewalling by governments which viewed the establishment of such an institution as a threat. As such the process was prolonged and the goal of establishing a court was not realized until 1992. During this year, the Commission completed and introduced its proposal in this respect to the general session. The creation of a special committee, the completion of necessary research followed by the establishment of a preliminary committee in 1995 and the completion of the mandate for the court, followed by the signing of the proposal by the Diplomatic Conference at the UN authorized to take action, postponed the full realization of this goal further until July 17, 1998.
Throughout these years the human community has stood witness to the most shameful of crimes against humanity, especially against women and children. The occurring of such crimes in a systematic and planned manner in Cambodia, the former Yugoslavia and Rawanda demonstrates that those responsible for the crime of genocide and also their victims are not limited to a particular country or a particular individual and that the cruelty of these criminals is not contained by borders, culture or the history of their civilizations. In Cambodia alone in the 1970’s more than 2 million people were murdered by the Khmer Rouge. The developments in Darfur mark the height of such crimes. Human Rights Watch in a report issued in May 2004 estimated that in 18 months, Arab paramilitary rebels murdered at least 30,000 black Africans.
1. The UN’s Temporary High Commission on Refugees in Genevia estimates the number of those murdered in Darfur to be 400,000.
2. All the documents related to the human catastrophe which took place in Darfur, points to the rape of local girls and women, the destruction of villages and the polluting of waters by the armed rebels. These paramilitary groups came into existence with the full support of the Sudanese government, and in particular the support of the main person accused in this genocide, Omar Al-Bashir, which was provided through an organization called “Jan Javid.” The report of the High Commissioner on Human Rights in Darfur in May 2004 identified the government of Sudan and its associated paramilitary rebel groups as the main perpetrators in this broad violation of human rights.
3. The first reaction to the human crisis in the Sudan took place through the issuance of a statement by the UN Security Council in May 2004. The second statement demanded that the Sudanese government disarm the paramilitary rebel groups in the Sudan. In July of 2004, officials within the Sudanese government, committed to disarming the paramilitary rebel groups through the signing of a joint agreement with the Secretary General of the UN. Still, the report issued on 27 July by the African Union claimed that the attacks of paramilitary rebel groups against civilians were continuing. The Security Council then issued several other resolutions about the human crisis in Darfur. Likewise the Secretary General of the UN in his report issued on 30 August, 2004, clarified that government officials not only have not taken any action to disarm the paramilitary rebel groups but that they had not even taken any steps to identify them.
4. Following the said actions, on September 18, 2004 the Security Council issued Resolution 1564, in line with Chapter 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which called for the convening of a commission charged with investigating the situation in Darfur. This Commission, which was made up of 5 international experts in the field of human rights, conducted several visits to the region, and interviews with local and national Sudanese officials, as well as local witnesses. The experts in the Commission concluded that the Arab paramilitary rebel forces as well as the Sudanese government officials were responsible for carrying out numerous attacks in Darfur, as well as mass executions, torture, rape and ethnic genocide. The investigative Commission also recommended that the Security Council refer the case to the International Court of Justice. In light of the report of the Commission, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1593 on 31 March, 2005, to refer the crisis in the Darfur to the Prosecutor at the International Court of Justice. After conducting investigations, the Prosecutor at the International Court of Justice issued an arrest warrant for Omar Al-Bashir as the main defendant in this case.
It should be noted that, the validity of the arrest order which is in line with the authorities of the Prosecutor of the International Court of Justice outlined in Article 13 Section B of mandate of the International Court of Justice, is not contingent on the agreement or signing of the mandate of the International Court of Justice by the [Sudanese] government. After taking up the case, the Prosecutor is authorized to charge others as well or to reduce the number of those charged in a particular case. Additionally, the mandate of the Security Council in ensuring peace and security provides this body with the necessary authority to refer this case to the Prosecutor of the International Court of Justice.
The Defenders of Human Rights Center believes that the decision by the International Court of Justice to issue an arrest warrant in this case, sends a signal to humanity that the criminal government authorities and heads of state can no longer take advantage of impunity provided through their governmental position to commit crimes against humanity. Further it implies that the era of turning a blind eye toward heads of state of who have committed atrocities by refusing to prosecute them is over. These criminal rulers are not worthy of membership in the human community as justice is awaiting them.
The Defenders of Human Rights Center
April 29, 2009