The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court has today ruled that the decision not to consider charges of genocide against Omar al-Bashir, President of Sudan, was wrong.

In March last year the Pre-Trials Chamber of the ICC (the division responsible for the confirmation of charges & issuing of arrest warrants), decided to issue an arrest warrant against Omar al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity, but determined that the arguments put forward by the prosecution in regards to the charge of genocide were not strong enough for them to consider the issue.

The prosecution appealed this decision, and it is on this issue the Appeals Chamber has today ruled.  The chamber has, by unanimous agreement, decided that the Pre-Trial Chamber subjected the charge of genocide to a far higher burden of proof than the arrest warrant stage of the process required. Today's decision was not about whether al-Bashir should be charged with genocide, merely that the original court's decision to not consider it was wrong. The case has now been referred back to the Pre-Trials Chamber for a decision based on the reasonable level of proof.

Posted by Joel Gabri, Insight on Conflict, 3 February 2010