Washington — The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir arrived in the Chadian capital of Ndjamena on Friday afternoon in a new defiance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) warrants issued against him in 2009 and 2010.
Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir (ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images)
Bashir is charged with ten counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide he allegedly masterminded in Sudan's western region of Darfur.
He is representing Sudan in the the Community of Sahel-Saharan (CEN-SAD) summit
Chad, a member of the ICC, is theoretically obligated to apprehend the Sudanese leader once he arrived on its territory.
But the government in Ndjamena has showed no interest in enforcing the warrant as this marks the third time that Bashir has visited since the Hague-based court ordered his arrest.
On Friday, the ICC judges issued an order at the request of prosecutor Fatou Bensouda reminding Chad of its obligations under the court's founding document known as the Rome Statute.
"The Chamber notes that the Republic of Chad is a State Party to the Statute since 1 January 2007, and accordingly, it is under the obligation, in accordance with articles 86 and 89 of the Statute, to execute the pending Court's decisions concerning the arrest and surrender of Omar Al-Bashir," the judges said in court documents published on the ICC website.
"The Chamber further notes that according to article 87(7) of the Statute "[w]here a State Party fails to comply with a request to cooperate by the Court contrary to the provisions of this Statute [...] the Court may make a finding to that effect and refer the matter to the Assembly of States Parties or, where the Security Council referred the matter to the Court, to the Security Council".
Chad's previous non-cooperation instances were reported to the UNSC along with other ICC members who received Bashir including Malawi, Kenya and Djibouti.
But the UNSC took no action against these nations and the African Union (AU) issued a resolution backing the decision of these countries to allow Bashir's visit.
Members of the AU rallied behind Bashir and decided that the continent will not cooperate with the ICC in apprehending the Sudanese leader though several countries did not abide by it.
The AU summit that took place in Addis Ababa last month omitted the usual mention of urging its members to ignore ICC warrant against Bashir. A source told Sudan Tribune that African diplomats did not believe this was a pressing issue warranting discussion this time around.
The president of the ICC Assembly of State Parties Tiina Intelmann transmitted a demarche to ambassadors of Chad in New York and in Brussels on Thursday to urge cooperation by Chad with the ICC. She also wrote a letter to Chad's foreign minister Moussa Faki Mahmat.
Close to 100 human right groups and law societies across Africa signed a letter addressed to the Chadian president urging him to honor his country's obligations to the ICC.
"Permitting President al-Bashir to visit Chad without executing these warrants would run counter to Chad's obligations as a state party to the Rome Statute of the ICC, in particular Articles 86 and 89(1). It would also send damaging signals to victims of mass atrocities in Darfur and globally, and undermine Chad's credibility on issues of justice and accountability," said the letter seen by Sudan Tribune.
"[W]e urge the Chadian government to clearly affirm its commitment to cooperate with the ICC, as states such as South Africa, Uganda and Botswana, and Malawi have already done, and clarify that should President al-Bashir enter Chad, he will be arrested. This would be an important way to demonstrate respect for victims of the crimes committed, along with Chad's commitment to end impunity".
The ICC judges today also called on Libya to arrest Bashir should he visit as reported this week by state-linked media. It was said that the Sudanese president would fly to Tripoli from Chad to attend the celebrations commemorating the outbreak of the revolution that toppled the regime of late leader Muammar Gaddafi.
But a source in New York told Sudan Tribune today that the Libyan mission confirmed that Bashir will not be travelling there.
The United Nations has estimated that around 300,000 people have died during the conflict in Darfur and some 2 million people been displaced. Khartoum puts the death toll at 10,000.