In addition to the questions regarding the exact timing of the International Criminal Court’s issuance of an arrest warrant against Omar al-Bashir, and which of the three categories of charges against Bashir—crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide—the judges will endorse, there is a third, slightly confusing ICC-related matter:
Journalists and advocacy groups have occasionally (not always) conflated the terms indictment and arrest warrant and many are unsure of what exactly Ocampo requested to be handed down.
It is important to understand the difference between the two terms. An indictment is a criminal accusation, while an arrest warrant is a demand (and authorization) to apprehend a suspect.
The ICC does not technically issue indictments, it issues arrest warrants. When the term “indictment” is used when discussing the ICC, it is used informally as a descriptive, not technical term. Since ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo requested an arrest warrant for President Bashir in July 2008, the ICC has been consistent in its strict use of the term “arrest warrant.”
SEE our Special Page on the ICC.
Rebecca Brocato contributed to this post.