ICTJ and Other Organizations Call Upon Uganda to Arrest ICC Fugitive Bashir As He Attends Inauguration

5/12/2016

Human Rights Network-Uganda (HURINET-U), The Uganda Coalition on the International Criminal Court (UCICC), The International Center for Transitional Justice, Avocats San Frontiers and Atrocities Watch are dismayed to learn that Government of Uganda has extended an invitation to President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan to attend President Yoweri Museveni’s swearing in on Thursday May 12, 2016. President Omar Al Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the alleged perpetration of crimes against humanity, genocide and war crime. The warrants for his arrest remain outstanding.

Uganda is a State Party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court having signed the treaty on 17 March, 1999, and ratified it on 14 June, 2002. The country further strengthened its commitment to end impunity for international crimes by enacting the International Criminal Court Act of 2010 (ICC Act), which domesticates the Rome Statute of the ICC. The ICC Act contains provisions that set out obligations for close cooperation with the court with regard to arrest and surrender of persons who have warrants issued for their arrest. Further, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1593 that referred the Darfur situation to the ICC imposes obligations on all United Nation member states to arrest and surrender all persons including President Al Bashir. Aware of these obligations, Uganda should not have invited Bashir unless it intends to arrest and surrender him to the ICC to face trial.

"ICTJ believes that the victims of massive crimes in Darfur have a right to justice," said Paul Seils, ICTJ Vice President. "Uganda has an obligation to arrest and transfer President Al Bashir if he is on its territory. Failure to do so not only brings Uganda into disrepute but shows profound disrespect for the thousands of victims of crimes in Darfur."

Article 27 of the Rome Statute disregards the official capacities of Heads of state and states that immunities of Heads of States are of no consequence to the court’s processes. The Pretrial Chamber of the ICC in proceedings to determine whether Malawi and Chad had breached their obligations of cooperation under the Rome Statute by failing to arrest Bashir when he visited those countries in late 2011, held that President Bashir is not eligible for immunity under international law and ICC state parties are obliged to arrest and surrender him to the ICC . Uganda also has obligations under the Constitutive Act of the African Union that obliges states to take measures to fight impunity; this is in addition to obligations under the Great Lakes Protocols that call upon states to arrest and surrender persons who may have committed serious crimes.

The presence of President Al Bashir in Uganda, and the failure, refusal and neglect by the government of Uganda to arrest and surrender him to the ICC to face trial, would be in contravention to Ugandan’s obligations under the Rome Statute and the ICC Act.

Further, inviting an international criminal suspect to Uganda not only undermines the fight against impunity which Uganda has for long championed but also betrays the concerns and interests of the Victims of the most heinous crimes. Besides, inviting such an international criminal suspect wanted by the ICC makes a mockery of the swearing in ceremony which is supposed to be a historic event in the democratization process.

We therefore urge the government of Uganda to fulfill its obligations under international and domestic laws by arresting and surrendering President Omar Al Bashir should he be found on Ugandan territory.

"As a state party to the ICC and having domesticated the Rome Statute through the ICC Act 2010, Uganda is obligated to fully cooperate with the ICC's request for the arrest and surrender of President Omar Bashir," said Sarah Kasande Kihika, ICTJ Program Associate in Uganda. "By hosting Bashir, Uganda not only contravenes its international and domestic legal obligations but it also casts doubt on its commitment to end impunity for international crimes. We call upon the government of Uganda to stand with the victims of Darfur by arresting and surrendering Mr. Bashir to the ICC to face trial."

Contact

Human Rights Network-Uganda
Email: pm@hurinet.or.ug
Telephone: (+256) 77-2-750669.

Sarah Kasande Kihika
ICTJ Program Associate, Uganda
Email: skasande@ictj.org
Telephone: (+256) 77-2-840857


PHOTO: Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, the president of Sudan, listens to a speech during the opening of the 20th session of The New Partnership for Africa's Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan. 31, 2009. (Jesse B. Awalt/US Navy)