The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Jonathan Hutson
jhutson [at] phrusa [dot] org
Tel: (617) 301-4210
Cell: (857) 919-5130

International Criminal Court's Arrest Warrant for Sudan's President a Welcome Step


Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) welcomes the decision of the
International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue a warrant for the arrest of
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. This marks an important first step
towards bringing the perpetrators of genocide in Darfur to account, and
achieving a measure of justice for victims. PHR remains concerned about
the physical security of aid workers and internally displaced persons
in Darfur in the wake of the arrest warrant, in case of a likely spike
in violent attacks, and urges the United Nation's Security Council to
take all measures to ensure that they are protected.

"PHR has documented the terror and devastation that Bashir has
ordered and overseen against his own people in Darfur," said Frank
Donaghue, PHR's Chief Executive Officer. "The Darfuri refugees with
whom PHR spoke hold their President personally responsible. One woman
told us 'if Bashir is arrested, old women in Darfur will get up and

PHR's research has also established that the Government of Sudan
created conditions that make life unsustainable, by driving people from
their villages and depriving them of food and shelter. PHR's analysis
laid the groundwork for the charge of genocide under Article II (c) of
the Genocide Convention used by Chief Prosecutor Moreno Ocampo in his
request for Bashir's arrest in July 2008. While not issuing the arrest
warrant on the genocide count today, the Judges stressed that if
additional evidence is gathered, today's decision would not prevent the
Prosecution from requesting an amendment to the warrant to include the
crime of genocide. PHR hopes that the Court will remain open to this

Any renewed efforts by Sudan's allies to delay the trial for a year
(by invoking Article 16 of the Rome Statute) must be opposed. The
process of justice must not be held hostage to politics and
maneuvering. President Bashir has shown such disregard for the
international community's efforts to bring peace, and ensure justice
that a year's delay would make 'peacebuilding' even more unlikely.

While justice is a critical first step, there are many others that
must be taken to ensure that Darfur is peaceful enough for the return
of all of its citizens. First, there must be sincere efforts to bring
all relevant parties to peace negotiations so that a fair and
representative peace is built. Second, survivors must be monetarily
compensated for their losses by the perpetrator (the Government of
Sudan), and given health care, legal services and job training to allow
them to rebuild their lives.

"Trials are to hold perpetrators accountable. But they are also
about bringing justice for the victims," said Frank Donaghue. "We must
not forget that they are individuals - nearly 2.5 million of them -
whose lives have been utterly torn apart. It is the responsibility of
the Government of Sudan as well as the international community, to help
them rebuild Darfur."

PHR was founded in 1986 on the idea that health professionals, with their specialized skills, ethical duties, and credible voices, are uniquely positioned to investigate the health consequences of human rights violations and work to stop them. PHR mobilizes health professionals to advance health, dignity, and justice and promotes the right to health for all.