African state members of the International Criminal Court must clarify whether they will arrest Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for genocide as obligated, says a civic coalition.
Africa is the continent with the most countries — 30 — belonging to the International Criminal Court. But an African Union summit last week criticised the International Criminal Court warrant and called for its suspension.
Since then only Botswana and South Africa have said they would arrest Bashir if he set foot on their territory, Reuters reports. The Coalition for the ICC (CICC) criticised African heads of state for inaction over the warrant accusing Bashir of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Sudan’s rebel Darfur region.
“We call on more African state parties to the ICC to make clear their continued obligations to the Court,” Stephen Lamony, Africa Situations Adviser at the CICC, said in a statement by the CICC, melding 2,500 civil society groups in 150 countries.
“Al-Bashir is widely considered a fugitive from justice, especially in Africa,” Oby Nwankwo from the Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre, a CICC member, said in a statement issued late on Tuesday in New York and The Hague.
“African victims deserve more than this from our heads of state. Indeed, the African continent deserves more.”
Sudan itself signed the Rome Statute forming the ICC but had not ratified it by 2005 when the U.N. Security Council referred Darfur to The Hague-based court. Bashir rejects the ICC charges. The ICC has also issued three arrest warrants for Darfur rebels, all of whom have surrendered to the court. On Wednesday Bashir will fly to Libya for a two-day visit. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, a close Bashir ally, has not signed the Rome Statute that established the ICC in 2002 and has repeatedly criticised the warrant.
Gaddafi had given sanctuary to Khalil Ibrahim, chief of the Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), but has not allowed him to return to Darfur. This will be Bashir’s second trip abroad since the ICC widened Bashir’s charge sheet to include genocide last month.
Chad, a full ICC member, hosted Bashir in July but did not arrest him, reflecting a rapprochement between the neighbours who had waged a proxy war in Darfur and eastern Chad. Bashir is accused or orchestrating rape, murder and torture in Darfur during a counter-insurgency campaign aimed at wiping out insurgents who took up arms in early 2003, accusing Khartoum of neglecting the remote region. The United Nations estimates some 300,000 people have died and more than 2 million driven from their homes in the seven- year conflict, which sparked the world’s largest relief aid operation.