ICC urges UN action on Bashir visit to Djibouti


The International Criminal Court called on the UN Security Council to take action over Djibouti’s failure to arrest indicted war crimes suspect Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir during a recent visit.

Bashir has been indicted by the ICC, the world’s first permanent war crimes court, for genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region and this is the third time that an ICC member state has failed to arrest him despite being obliged to do so.

The ICC said on Thursday it had informed the Security Council and the Assembly of States Parties (ASP), which oversees the work of the court, of Bashir’s visit to Djibouti to attend the inauguration ceremony of Djibouti’s president on May 8, Reuters reports.

It urged the Security Council and the ASP “to take any measure they may deem appropriate”. Djibouti is one of two Arab League states that have signed up to the ICC, which said the African country “has an obligation” to enforce arrest warrants.

The ICC has struggled to have its suspects arrested because it has no police force of its own and relies on state co-operation for arrests to be carried out.
“Countries that are welcoming Bashir are sending a terrible message to victims on their commitment to accountability and the arrest of the perpetrators of these crimes,” said Elise Keppler at New York-based Human Rights Watch.

Although the Security Council has the power to refer situations to the ICC, as it did with Sudan’s Darfur crisis and Libya’s violent crackdown on protesters, alongside authority to temporarily halt investigations, it has no clear power to take action against states that fail to arrest ICC suspects.

The ICC previously informed the Security Council in August 2010 of a failure by an ICC state party to arrest Bashir, following visits by the Sudanese leader to Kenya and Chad.