Appeals Chamber Judgment 3-2-2010
Al Bashir case: The Appeals Chamber directs Pre-Trial Chamber I to decide anew on the genocide charge
Case: The Prosecutor v. Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir
Situation: Darfur, Sudan
Today, 3 February, 2010, the Appeals Chamber rendered its judgment on the Prosecutor’s appeal, reversing, by unanimous decision, Pre-Trial Chamber I’s decision of 4 March, 2009, to the extent that Pre-Trial Chamber I decided not to issue a warrant of arrest in respect of the charge of genocide. The Appeals Chamber directed the Pre-Trial Chamber to decide anew whether or not the arrest warrant should be extended to cover the charge of genocide.
Judge Kourula, presiding judge on this appeal, delivered a summary of the judgment. The Appeals Chamber explained that it was not concerned with the question of whether Mr Omar Al Bashir is, or is not, responsible for the crime of genocide. Rather, the Appeals Chamber addressed a question of procedural law, namely whether the Pre-Trial Chamber applied the correct standard of proof when disposing of the Prosecutor’s application for an arrest warrant.
In its 4 March, 2009, decision, Pre-Trial Chamber I rejected the Prosecutor’s application in respect of genocide stating that it would issue an arrest warrant for genocide only if the only reasonable conclusion to be drawn from the Prosecutor’s evidence, based on “proof by inference”, was that there were reasonable grounds to believe in the existence of genocidal intent. The Appeals Chamber found that demanding that the existence of genocidal intent must be the only reasonable conclusion amounts to requiring the Prosecutor to disprove any other reasonable conclusions and to eliminate any reasonable doubt. The Appeals Chamber found this standard of proof to be too demanding at the arrest warrant stage, which is governed by article 58 of the Rome Statute. This amounted to an error of law.
Although the Appeals Chamber reversed the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision, the Appeals Chamber rejected the Prosecutor’s request to make a finding that there were reasonable grounds to believe that Omar Al Bashir acted with genocidal intent, as this is a matter to be determined in a new decision by the Pre-Trial Chamber, using the correct standard of proof.
Pre-Trial Chamber I issued, on 4 March, 2009, the “Decision on the Prosecution’s Application for a Warrant of Arrest against Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir”. In its decision, the Pre-Trial Chamber issued a warrant of arrest against Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir for crimes against humanity and war crimes, but rejected the Prosecutor’s application in respect of the crime of genocide.
On 6 July, 2009, the Prosecutor filed an appeal against this decision. The Appeals Chamber granted the Sudan Workers Trade Unions Federation and the Sudan International Defence Group leave to make submissions as amicus curiae. Eight victims were also authorised to present submissions to the Appeals Chamber.
The situation in Darfur was referred to the International Criminal Court by the United Nations Security Council’s resolution 1593, on 31 March, 2005. In this situation, three cases are being heard: The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Muhammad Harun (“Ahmad Harun”) and Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman (“Ali Kushayb”); The Prosecutor v. Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir; and The Prosecutor v. Bahar Idriss Abu Garda.
The International Criminal Court is the only permanent international court established with the mission to help put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, namely the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and thus to contribute to the prevention of such crimes.
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