Uganda must respect legal obligation to arrest Omar Al Bashir

Press release
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Gaël Grilhot / Freelance

(Paris, Kampala) Omar Al Bashir has arrived in Kampala to attend today’s inauguration ceremony for Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. Our organisations urge the Government of Uganda to take all necessary measures to arrest Omar Al Bashir, Sudanese President and wanted International Criminal Court (ICC) fugitive, while he is present in the country. Bashir, who has eluded arrest since 2009, faces charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

“We are deeply concerned about declarations made today by President Museveni expressing his intention not to support or cooperate with the ICC. The situation is clear: Ugandan authorities should comply with their legal obligations under the Rome Statute, to which Uganda is a State Party, and arrest and surrender Al Bashir to the ICC.”

Our organisations

On 4 March 2009, the ICC issued an arrest warrant against Bashir for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in the region of Darfur. A second arrest warrant was issued on 12 July 2010, adding charges of genocide. Bashir has managed to avoid arrest since 2009, despite the ICC’s arrest warrants which oblige all States Parties to the Rome Statute to arrest him upon arrival within their territory.

The ICC Prosecutor, as well as the United Nations Security Council, have repeatedly underscored the legal imperative for states to cooperate in Bashir’s arrest and surrender, as an important step towards justice for the victims of international crimes committed in Darfur. Uganda has demonstrated its commitment to ending impunity for international crimes by enacting the International Criminal Court Act of 2010, which incorporates the provisions of the Rome Statute of the ICC into domestic law.

“The failure of Uganda to cooperate with the ICC and implement the pending arrest warrants against Bashir will serve a devastating blow to rule of law in the country and leave Darfur victims without any means of redress.”

Our organisations

Allowing Bashir to leave Uganda freely and flouting Rome Statute obligations to arrest and surrender Bashir to the ICC would represent a stark departure from Uganda’s previous support to the ICC and the pursuit of international criminal justice. In 2004 Uganda called on the ICC to investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the conflict between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the national Ugandan authorities. The trial of Dominic Ongwen, an LRA member who surrendered himself in January 2015, is due to begin at the ICC later this month.

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