Uganda must immediately arrest Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir and hand him over to the International Criminal Court (ICC), said Amnesty International today. Al-Bashir, who is on the court’s wanted list, arrived in Kampala this morning to attend the inauguration of President Yoweri Museveni.
“Uganda must face up to its international obligations and arrest Omar Al-Bashir who is wanted on charges of genocide,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
“As a signatory to the Rome Statute, Uganda has an absolute obligation to surrender him to the ICC. Failure to do so would be a breach of its duty and would be a cruel betrayal of the hundreds of thousands of people killed and displaced during the Darfur conflict.”
The situation in Darfur, Sudan, was referred to the ICC in 2005 by the UN Security Council. Arrest warrants against President Al-Bashir have been outstanding since 2009 on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Darfur from 2003 to 2008.
A recent ruling by the Supreme Court of South Africa called the behavior of South African authorities “disgraceful” for their failure to arrest President Al-Bashir according to their obligations under South African legislation implementing the Rome Statute, when he travelled to Johannesburg to attend the African Union Summit in June 2015.
In March 2010, the Ugandan parliament passed the International Criminal Court Bill which fully incorporated the law of the ICC into Ugandan law. The bill also provides for the arrest and surrender of suspects to the ICC. Speaking at the Assembly of States Parties to the ICC in November 2015, Uganda’s representative unequivocally stated the country’s “support to the International Criminal Court in the fight against impunity” and that “this commitment remains unwavering” However, Uganda has also at times been critical of the ICC.
“President Al-Bashir cannot be allowed to evade justice any longer,” said Wanyeki.
“The government of President Museveni must act now to arrest him and ensure that the next flight he takes flies directly to The Hague where justice awaits him.”
In July 2009, it was reported that Al-Bashir was invited to Uganda to attend the Smart Partnership Dialogue conference. However, he sent a deputy in his place.
The ICC has also issued several arrest warrants related to crimes committed in northern Uganda by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) since 2002, including against LRA leader Joseph Kony. The first trial of a former LRA Commander, Dominic Ongwen, is expected to start this year.