The International Criminal Court (ICC) today requested the Central African Republic (CAR) to take all necessary measures to arrest the President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, and transfer him to the Court, in the event that he arrives in the country.
The ICC in July issued a second arrest warrant for Mr. al-Bashir, adding genocide to the list of charges for crimes he has allegedly committed in Sudan’s war-ravaged Darfur region. In March last year, the Sudanese leader became the first sitting head of State to be indicted by the Court, which charged him with two counts of war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity.
Today’s arrest request from the ICC’s Pre-trial Chamber to CAR followed information of a possible visit by Mr. al-Bashir to the country, the Court said in a press release, UN News Service reports.
The ICC stressed that as a State party to the Rome Statute, CAR has the obligation to execute the warrants of arrest against Mr. al-Bashir. The tribunal requested the CAR to inform the Chamber immediately about any problem which would impede or prevent the arrest and surrender of Mr. al-Bashir in the event that he visits the country.
The Rome Statute is the treaty that established the ICC. It entered into force on 1 July 2002.
On 27 August, the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber 1 issued two decisions informing the United Nations Security Council and the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute about Mr. al Bashir’s visits to Kenya and Chad, “in order for them to take any measure they may deem appropriate.”
The Chamber also requested observations from the Government of Kenya on the enforcement of warrants of arrest against Mr. al-Bashir on 25 October, in the event he visits the country. Both Chad and Kenya failed to arrest Mr. al-Bashir when he visited both countries earlier this year.
The UN estimates that 300,000 people have been killed and another 2.7 million forced from their homes since fighting erupted in 2003 in Darfur, pitting rebels against Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen. All sides are accused of serious human rights violations.
In May, the ICC’s judges referred Sudan’s lack of cooperation in failing to arrest the Mr. al-Bashir and other indictees – including Ahmad Harun, a former national government minister of the interior – to the Security Council.
Although Sudan is not a party to the Rome Statute, it is obliged to “cooperate fully with and provide any necessary assistance to the Court and the prosecutor” in accordance with a Council resolution adopted in 2005.
The ICC is a permanent court based in The Hague in the Netherlands and tries people accused of the most serious international offences, such as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Other than Darfur, the ICC currently has investigations open in four situations: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, northern Uganda, CAR and Kenya.