Hu­man rights groups urge Uganda to ar­rest Bashir

Cape Argus - - WORLD -

HU­MAN rights or­gan­i­sa­tions are urg­ing the Ugan­dan au­thor­i­ties to ar­rest Su­danese Pres­i­dent Omar al-Bashir who is in the coun­try for a two-day visit, AP re­ports.

Bashir is wanted by the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes against hu­man­ity, re­lat­ing to Su­dan’s Dar­fur re­gion.

The rights groups made their plea on Mon­day, af­ter Bashir was wel­comed to Uganda by Pres­i­dent Yow­eri Mu­sev­eni.

Uganda – as a sig­na­tory to the ICC treaty – has an obli­ga­tion to ar­rest Bashir, who has been in­dicted by the ICC.

“Invit­ing an in­ter­na­tional crim­i­nal sus­pect to Uganda not only un­der­mines the fight against im­punity, which Uganda has long cham­pi­oned, but also be­trays the con­cerns and in­ter­ests of the vic­tims of the most heinous crimes,” six Ugan­dan rights watch­dogs said in a joint state­ment.

“We there­fore call upon the gov­ern­ment of Uganda to ful­fil its obli­ga­tions un­der in­ter­na­tional and do­mes­tic laws by ar­rest­ing and sur­ren­der­ing Pres­i­dent Omar alBashir.”

Elise Kep­pler, from the US-based Hu­man Rights Watch, con­curred with the Ugan­dan rights groups, stat­ing that Bashir’s pres­ence in Uganda “was an af­front to Dar­fur’s vic­tims”.

But it seems un­likely that the ar­rest will take place as Uganda ar­gues that, as a vis­it­ing head of state, Bashir is im­mune from ar­rest.

Uganda is not the first African coun­try to refuse to ar­rest the Su­danese pres­i­dent. In 2015, South Africa hosted Bashir and failed to ar­rest him. The ICC sub­se­quently found that Pre­to­ria had an obli­ga­tion to ar­rest him, a rul­ing which led to the coun­try threat­en­ing to with­draw from the ICC.

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