Rights bodies urge Uganda to arrest Bashir
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 for 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”.
She added that other African members of the ICC, including Kenya and Nigeria, “have avoided or curtailed such visits by Bashir”.
But it seems unlikely that the arrest will happen 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 then. 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.
Many African countries postulate that the ICC unfairly targets Africa.
Sudan imports 20% of Uganda’s coffee, “the single biggest export market” for one of Uganda’s top revenue earners.