SUDAN, TURKEY AND THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT

Dimpool Analysis Team

GIZEM AKTAS

24 July 2012

In 1989, the President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, seized power in a bloodless coup and assumed the Presidency in 1993. Over the years, he has been blamed for supporting Osama bin Laden, abusing human rights, and unleashing death squads inDarfur. Now, Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of crimes against humanity and genocide inDarfur.

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In 2004, the United Nations Security Council ratified Decision 1564 to create a Commission for investigating issues inSudan. According to the Commission’s report, 2.7 million people had to leave their homes and live in refugee camps across the Chad border and over 300 thousand people were killed. In response this report, the Commission recommended taking action to protect the people and punish whoever was responsible.

In March 2005, the UN Security Council first used the right to refer a situation to ICC, which was initially presented as a Rome Statue with a denunciation for the Sudanese government. After this decision, in July 2005 it was announced that the ICC had opened an investigation. In 2009, the ICC asked to issue a warrant for Al-Bashir’s arrest. The ICC prosecutor filed different charges of war crimes against Bashir. It was the first time the court sought to detain a sitting head of state.

In 2008, Sudan informed the UN Secretary General that it no longer intended to become a State party and thereby had no legal obligations arising from their representatives’ signature on 8 September 2000. In addition, Bashir asserted that his administration did not recognize the court. Al-Bashir rejected the court’s legitimacy and defied the arrest warrant. Bashir claimed that the Western governments want greater access to Sudan’s resources and that The Hague-based court is merely a tool of Western powers. He also refuses the report of the UN and claimed that the numbers, which were mentioned in said report, are also wrong. Sudan’s President further denied that his regime was involved in genocide inDarfur.

Al-Bashir and Abdullah Gul
Al-Bashir and Abdullah Gul

Bashir made his first trip abroad to Turkey since the ICC moved to indict him for war crimes. This trip caused a wave of reactions against Turkey throughout the Western government. In response to these reactions, President Abdullah Gül said, “This is not European Union’s business. Al-Bashir comes for a special meeting. This is not a bilateral discussion.”Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, “It is not possible for those who belong to the Muslim faith to carry out genocide.”  In the International scene, this attitude seems like support of Al-Bashir.

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In 2009, a second trip Al-Bashir made to Turkey for an Islamic conference was not tolerated as well. The European Union put pressure on hosting Turkey either to stop Al-Bashir from attending the summit or arrest him upon arrival. However, before Turkey could give a reaction to this pressure the Sudanese president decided to skip the Islamic Conference Summit.

However, the main issue began in 2011 when Turkey and Sudan agreed to a Framework Agreement in Istanbul. In July 2012, a Turkish parliamentary commission passed this Framework Agreement containing 17 Articles about Education and Technical/Scientific Cooperation between Turkey and Sudan. In addition, Turkey would educate Sudanese soldiers and troops and support the modernization of military equipments and tools.

Erdogan and Al-Bashir
Erdogan and Al-Bashir

The ICC has no police to enforce its decisions, and it relies on the states to aid in investigations, arrest persons against whom arrest warrants have been issued, and imprison those it convicts. However, Turkey signed the Rome Statue but does not ratify the Statue, and in fact Turkey is criticized by many human rights’ defenders organisations due to this lack of action. Therefore, Turkey has no obligation to arrest a person accused. In this case, applications of sanctions to Turkey by the ICC are not possible. The ICC could not hold Turkey accountable for not arresting Al-Bashir even though he is accused of genocide. Still, hosting a person accused of war crimes and genocide leaves Turkey in a difficult position, especially as a candidate country for EU membership.

However, with this Framework Agreement between Sudan and Turkey, in the future the ICC could accuse Turkey of training and delivering military support to genocide. It seems that Turkey gives willing support to this serious crime that has been committed in recent history, but Turkey should consider that it already deals with Armenian Genocide every year. The genocide is an issue that Turkey faces every day in matters of Foreign Policy. Therefore, in the future, relations between Turkey and Sudan could cause serious consequences for Turkey, unless Turkey ratifies the Statue and fulfils its responsibilities.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

“Gizem Aktas is a student in international relations at Galatasaray University, interested in human rights, terrorism, and Middle East.”

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GIZEM AKTAS
In 1989, the President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, seized power in a bloodless coup and assumed the Presidency in 1993. Over the years, he has been blamed for supporting Osama bin Laden, abusing human rights, and unleashing death squads inDarfur. " />