July 13, 2010
UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM SAYS INDICTMENT OF SUDAN PRESIDENT OMAR AL BASHIR ON CHARGES OF GENOCIDE AN IMPORTANT STEP TOWARDS ACCOUNTABILITY
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum today characterized the decision by the International Criminal Court to include three counts of genocide in a new arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir as an important step towards holding leaders accountable for such egregious crimes.
“This is the first time that the International Criminal Court has accused a sitting head of state of genocide,” said Michael Abramowitz, Director of the Museum’s genocide prevention program. “Justice requires that President Al Bashir respond to these very serious charges against him.”
In March 2009 the Court issued an arrest warrant charging Sudanese President Al Bashir with five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes for masterminding the conflict in Darfur. But the court’s Pre-Trial Chamber rejected the application to include the crime of genocide.
The Appeals Chamber subsequently overturned the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision, stating that the standard of proof the Pre-Trial Chamber had applied to evaluate the charges of genocide was “erroneous.”
Today the Pre-Trial Chamber stated: “There are reasonable grounds to believe [that President Omar Al Bashir is] responsible for three counts of genocide committed against the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups, that include: genocide by killing, genocide by causing serious bodily or mental harm and genocide by deliberately inflicting on each target group conditions of life calculated to bring about the group's physical destruction.”
In the wake of the March 2009 arrest warrant, the Sudanese government expelled several humanitarian aid agencies from Sudan, jeopardizing the lives of millions. The Museum once more calls on the United States and the international community to take necessary steps to ensure that the government of Sudan does not retaliate against innocent civilians again following today’s decision. “The Court action should not be used to justify retaliation against humanitarian groups who provide desperately needed assistance to innocent Sudanese citizens,” said Abramowitz.
The Museum has been actively monitoring and raising awareness about Sudan since 2000.
In April 2007, the Museum partnered with Google Earth in an unprecedented online mapping initiative aimed at furthering awareness and action on Darfur. The programs Crisis in Darfur and World is Witness enable more than 400 million Google Earth mapping service users worldwide to visualize and better understand the situation in Darfur.
A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires leaders and citizens to promote human dignity, confront hatred, and prevent genocide. Federal support guarantees the Museum’s permanence, and its far reaching educational activities and global outreach are made possible by donors nationwide. For more information, visit www.ushmm.org.