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Al-Bashir Arrest Warrant Welcome Step toward Justice in Sudan
Freedom House welcomes today's decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
"This landmark court decision sends a message to the Sudanese people that al-Bashir's ruthless and corrupt regime will be held accountable," said Jennifer Windsor, Freedom House executive director. "This is not about retribution; rather it is about restoring justice for all of Sudan's citizens and opening a space for them to choose leaders who are committed to peace and security."
The arrest warrant for al-Bashir was issued by the ICC for his role in masterminding a campaign of murder, torture and rape by government troops and Arab militias in Sudan's western Darfur region. U.N. officials say up to 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million have fled their homes. Al-Bashir, who denies involvement, is the first sitting president ordered arrested by the court.
While the court's decision does not guarantee a change in leadership, it has the potential to provide Sudanese with the space to press for badly-needed political reforms. Under al-Bashir's 20-year rule, Sudan has become one of the world's eight most repressive regimes according to Freedom House’s annual survey Freedom in the World. The government, which combines a typical military junta with radical Islamism, has perpetrated a campaign of genocide against the civilian population in the Darfur region and routinely denies basic political rights and civil liberties to its citizens.
The arrest of al-Bashir also provides the Sudanese people with an opportunity to establish a domestic transitional justice process. Along with the international effort, this process can address the issues that are preventing Sudan from repairing its tarnished image and moving beyond the brutality in Darfur.
Sudan is ranked Not Free in the 2008 edition of Freedom in the World, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in the 2008 version of Freedom of the Press.
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Freedom House, an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties in Sudan since 1972.
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