AU resolution in support of al-Bashir: African Heads of State fall into disrepute in Sirte

Press Release from the FIDH International Board
(meeting in Paris from 3 to 5 July 2009)

The members of the FIDH International Board want to express their indignation and disappointment with the decision taken by the Heads of State and Government at the conference of the African Union on 3 July 2009 in Sirte, Libya, where they unanimously agreed to support President Bashir who has been served a warrant of arrest from the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his alleged responsibility for atrocities committed in Darfur.

Although the decision reiterates the commitment of the Heads of State to fight impunity and promote democracy and the rule of law, it also attacks the judicial independence of the Court, violates the treaty obligations of African states that have signed the Rome Statute, and attempts to weaken the international court charged with ensuring respect for the rights to justice for victims of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide when the national judiciary does not have the will or the capacity to do so. In their decision, the Heads of State of the African Union refuse to cooperate with the ICC with regard to the arrest and transfer to The Hague of "African personalities", criticise the inopposability of the right to immunity before the ICC and solicit the United Nations Security Council to apply Article 16 of the Rome Statute to suspend the proceedings against al-Bashir.

This resolution by the Heads of State is a grave injustice to the hundreds of thousands of victims who, for years, have been longing for justice and the return to peace, for these people have not received a response from the national courts nor the national, regional or international political bodies. This resolution, in a spectacular manner, confirms the paradox that characterises so many African Heads of State who rise up against criminal pursuit of a member of their own group although in other matters have cooperated with the ICC.

As for the concern expressed in this decision to protect the dignity of the African continent against actions by the international judiciary, the members of the FIDH International Board wish to stress the need to respect the independence of the judiciary and the dignity of the victims for whom the International Criminal Court is the last rampart against the reign of impunity. This is what the 30 African states that are party to the Rome Statute officially – and rightly – endorsed by ratifying it.

FIDH is appealing to the African states to put an end to this double talk by making a resolute commitment to the dignity of the victims and the primacy of law over cynicism and the defence of the interests of one side only.

The FIDH International Board :

President :

Treasurer :
Philippe VALLET

Vice-presidents :
 Fatimata MBAYE
 Juan Carlos CAPURRO
 Peter WEIS
 Arnold TSUNGA
 Cynthia GABRIEL
 Aliaksandr BIALIATSKI
 Tanya WARD
 Vilma NUNEZ

Secretaries General :
 Luis Guillermo PEREZ

Presidents of Honour :
 Sidiki KABA

Executive Director :
 Antoine BERNARD

Deputy Secretaries General :
 Sophie BESSIS
 Janette HABEL
 Elisabeth ALLES

Press contact : Karine Appy + 33 6 48 05 91 57

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