How can Syria and Sudan avoid being convicted in the ICC?

The International Criminal Court in The Hague (ICC) has for decades failed to prosecute Muslim perpetrators of genocide in Sudan, Iraq and Syria, where hundreds of thousands have been killed and millions displaced.

In December 2017, Omar Al-Bashir presented a medal to Turkish President Erdogan in Khartoum. Foto: Turkish Presidential Office

Repressive Muslim states are now pressuring the ICC for the court’s prosecutors to act against Israel. Last week Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian sent a letter to the president and chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court requesting them to put an end to Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip, the Iranian ministry announced on its Telegram channel on Tuesday.

– Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian sent letters to the ICC president and chief prosecutor stressing the need to speed up hearings on the latest crimes in the Gaza Strip, the ministry said in a statement, according to Russian news agency TASS.

Cooperation between the ICC court and many Muslim states has not worked historically. This applies not least to the court’s arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir in 2009, who has been able to travel to other Muslim states without them having acted taking action despite the warrant.

For example, Omar Al-Bashir attended the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting in Jakarta in 2016 as a guest of honor. Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir insisted that Indonesia was obliged to invite all leaders of member nations to the summit, including Al-Bashir.
Indonesia has not signed the Rome Statute which forms the legal basis of the ICC.

Awarded medal

In December 2017, Omar Al-Bashir presented a medal to Turkish President Erdogan in Khartoum, while President Erdogan remarked that “President Al-Bashir’s far-sighted and wise policies played a decisive role in Sudan’s success”, according to the Turkish Presidential Office.

Even Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has escaped prosecution by the ICC. In a resolution of 11 March 2021 on the Syrian conflict – 10 years after the revolt – the European Parliament notes that over 500,000 people have lost their lives, and more than a million have been injured in Syria since March 2011.

According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR), over 230,000 civilians have been killed: 88 percent of them by the Syrian regime and over 15,000 were tortured to death, of which 99 percent in regime prisons.

Assad escapes prosecution

Since then over 150,000 civilians have disappeared against their will or are being held in detention: 88 of them by the Syrian regime. Government forces and their allies, anti-government armed groups and UN-listed terrorist organizations have committed the most heinous violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, the resolution states.

Russia, with the support of China, has vetoed sixteen resolutions of the UN Security Council since 2011, including a referral of Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Since 2015, Russia has allocated logistical, diplomatic and financial resources to a large-scale military intervention by its air force in support of the Syrian regime, the European Parliament report states.
Iran and Hezbollah have also been directly involved in supporting the Syrian regime’s repression of civilians.