James Smith: Despots cannot hide, despite their threats

Share
Related Topics

Finally, a line has been drawn in the sand. Since coming to power in 1989, President Omar al-Bashir has amassed a catalogue of atrocities. The ICC doesn't have jurisdiction for crimes committed before 2002. But yesterday the court showed its purpose: despots cannot hide behind state sovereignty to exterminate their own citizens.

I have heard hundreds of witnesses testify. They have a common demand: the policy of rape and murder in Sudan must be stopped. Tired of failed peace talks, they see justice as the only way to compel the government of Sudan to imagine a peaceful future. The cheer from the Darfuri refugees outside the Sudanese embassy in London as the arrest warrant was announced yesterday represented nearly six years of hopeful campaigning.

Justice and prospects for long-term peace will exact a short-term price. Al-Bashir told the ICC to eat their warrant. Khartoum has started to expel aid workers and Salah Abdallah "Gosh", the head of Sudanese security and intelligence, said he will amputate the arms and cut off the heads of anyone co-operating with the ICC.

Also in danger is the agreement between the north and south of Sudan that in 2005 ended more than 20 years of bloody civil war.

The other peace process, between Darfur and the government of Sudan, was only recently reignited and is barely flickering. The rebel groups have said they cannot have peace if it means sweeping justice under the carpet.

They understand that Sudan should not be governed by committing atrocity, and even offered to hand over their own members.

But that rule of law may be denied. Britain and France are so concerned about Khartoum's reaction that they are considering asking the UN Security Council to suspend the ICC proceedings.

The arrest warrant is the first serious point of leverage the international community has had in five years. It should not be squandered.

Strict conditions should be applied before there is any slackening of the ICC proceedings. A genuine political process, free and fair elections and disarming of the Arab militias will be a good start. And any compromise should only be in regard to extending the investigations to others in the regime.

James Smith is executive director of the Aegis Trust, a genocide prevention organisation

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, UI, JMX, FIX)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, U...

Structured Finance

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - An excellent new instruction w...

SQL Server Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Server Developer SQL, PHP, C#, Real Time,...

C#.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Theresa May  

Democracy and the police: a system in crisis

Nigel Morris
 

Mary Beard has taught us all a lesson in how to deal with online bullies

Louise Scodie
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone