Sudan: Open Letter Concerning President Omar Al Bashir’s Visit To China Despite Outstanding ICC Warrants

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The Honorable Senator Mr. Michael Ronaldson, Minister of Veterans Affairs of Australia
The Honorable Jaques Wagner, Defence Minister of Brazil
The Honorable Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs of France
His Excellency Janos Ader, President of Hungary
The Honorable Paolo Gentiloni, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy
The Honorable Bert Koenders, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Netherlands
The Honorable Farhat Horchani, Defence Minister of Tunisia
The Honorable Don McKinnon, Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of New Zealand
The Honorable Kenneth Clarke, Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Honorable Margaret Chan, Director-General of World Health Organization
The Honorable Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO
The Honorable Li Yong, Director-General of UNIDO

1 September 2015

Subject: Call to uphold international justice in light of President Al Bashir’s Upcoming Visit to China

Your Excellencies,

Following an open letter we sent to Mr. Ban Ki Moon and several heads of State of State Parties to the Rome Statute on Saturday 29 August 2015 regarding their plans to attend the military parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two in China on 3 September, we received notice that you as well are planning to attend said event on behalf of your governments and UN agencies.

We would like to bring to your attention the fact that Omar Al Bashir, President of Sudan, has also been invited to the event and has confirmed his attendance. In light of this, we wish to remind you that Al Bashir is currently subject to two arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, and thus call on you to refuse to attend any event where he is also in attendance, as per your obligations under ASP and UN guidelines.

The situation in Darfur, Sudan, was referred to the ICC on 31 March 2005 by UN Security Council Resolution 1593, which resulted in two warrants issued against Al Bashir on 4 March 2009 and 12 July 2010. The ICC holds that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Al Bashir is responsible for several counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, including through murder, extermination, forcible transfer of population, torture, rape, attacks against civilians and pillaging.

Under Al Bashir’s presidency, massive and systematic crimes continue to be perpetrated in Darfur, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan. Reports of on-going crimes by government forces and allied militia include indiscriminate and targeted attacks on civilians; the use of prohibited weapons including cluster bombs; looting and destruction of civilian property; sexual violence; blocking humanitarian access; mass forced displacement of civilian populations; and attacks on hospitals and humanitarian facilities.

We therefore wish to remind the State Parties to the Rome Statute that they have a responsibility under ASP Resolution ICC-ASP/13/Res.3 of 17 December 2014 to “avoid contact with persons subject to a warrant of arrest issued by the Court.” Similarly, we recall that the UN “Guidance on contacts with persons who are the subject of arrest warrants or summonses issued by the International Criminal Court”1 indicates that “the presence of United Nations officials at any ceremonial or similar occasion that is attended by any [persons who are the subject of warrants of arrest issued by the International Criminal Court] should be avoided.”

Our organisations therefore call on all those invited to attend the commemorations in China on 3 September 2015, particularly representatives of State Parties to the Rome Statute and United Nations officials, to decline the invitation unless the invitation to President Al Bashir is rescinded.

We also urge you, your Excellencies, to call on the Chinese authorities to support UN Security Council Resolution 1593 by withdrawing President Al Bashir’s invitation to the event, and arresting him should he land on Chinese soil. Finally, should President Al Bashir nevertheless attempt to attend the event in China, we call on all States to deny his passage over their airspace.

We thank you in advance for your attention to this important matter, and your firm stance in support of international justice.

Yours sincerely,

Karim Lahidji
FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights

Katherine Perks
Acting Director / Programme Director
African Centre For Justice and Peace Studies

Sharon Hom
Directrice Exécutive
Human Rights in China

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