By Nangayi Guyson
Kampala, Uganda – The Coalition for the ICC has urged Nigeria to arrest Sudanese president Al-Bashir wanted by ICC for war crimes in Darfur during his planned visit to the western African country.
According to officials in Khartoum, president Omer Hassan al-Bashir is scheduled to fly to Nigeria on Sunday to attend a summit on HIV/AIDS that is set to start on Monday where he will also meet a number of African leaders on the sidelines of the summit to discuss bilateral cooperation and ways to further boost coordination in regional and international issues. It is also reported that the Sudanese president will also brief his counterparts on the developments regarding the peace process between Khartoum and Juba.
However, Bashir’s planned trip to Nigeria has attracted Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) to call for his arrest.
In a press release emailed to this media by the Coalition for the ICC, Nigeria has been advised to follow international obligation and arrest president Al-Bashir.
The Coalition for the International Criminal Court said on Friday, that Nigeria must honor its obligations under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) by arresting Sudanese President and ICC suspect Omar Al-Bashir or by cancelling his proposed visit to Nigerian territory.
Senior adviser for the Coalition for the ICC, Stephen Lamony, said that Nigeria Permitting President Al-Bashir to visit its territory without arresting him would constitute a failure of the nation to meet its obligations under the Rome Statute of the ICC,” he said.
He added that “If Nigeria and other members of the ICC are committed to ending impunity; they must not allow ICC arrest warrants to go unenforced, and at the very least must not accept visits from suspects like Al-Bashir.”
“The victims of the conflict in Darfur have suffered without justice for more than a decade due in part to the reluctance of some ICC member states to abide by the arrest warrants for Al-Bashir and other ICC suspects in Darfur,” said Lamony. “Nigeria must decide whether it will stand with Darfur’s innocent victims or ignore their right to justice.”
Human Rights Watch (HRW)’s senior justice counsel, Elise Keppler also said in a statement sent to this media that “Al-Bashir is a fugitive charged with heinous crimes committed in Darfur and he belongs in custody. Many other African states have made clear he will not be welcomed or avoided his visits, including South Africa, Malawi, Zambia, and Uganda. Nigeria should side with victims and arrest or bar entry to al-Bashir” said Elise.
Al-Bashir has been wanted by ICC since 2009 for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region. The following year, the Court issued an arrest warrant for Al-Bashir for the charge of genocide.
All charges against Mr. Bashir are linked to the conflict in the western Darfur region of Sudan, where an estimated 300,000 people have died and more than two million have been uprooted for about a decade of fighting between the government and rebels.
Mr. Bashir has defied the court’s orders and denied all accusations but the genocide charges have carried a heavy weight and have complicated his international dealings and travels.
It is not yet clear whether Nigeria will deny or allow Sudanese president Al-Bashir in its territories.
African Leaders recently showed lack of trust in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Hague accusing it of hunting Africans.
The Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, said during the African Union (AU)’s 50 years anniversary celebrations in the capital Addis Ababa that the ICC deviated from the mandate of fighting global impunity for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, and degenerating into “race hunting” Africans.