15 November 2017

Uganda: Court to Hear President Bashir Arrest Case

Photo: PPU
President Yoweri Museveni and President Omar al-Bashir at Kisozi farm on Tuesday.

Kampala — The International Crimes Division of the High Court (ICD) will Wednesday hear an application aimed at arresting Sudan President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al- Bashir if he ever sets foot on Uganda soil again.

The application was filed on Tuesday by Uganda victims Foundation, a civil society organisation.

Justice Moses Mukiibi is expected to hear the application at 2:30pm.

The respondents are Attorney General and justice minister, Gen Kahinda Otafiire.

The filing in of this application comes at the time when President Bashir is in the country on a three-day state visit to Uganda which ends on Wednesday.

Core to this application by the civil society is for court to issue a standing warrant of arrest against President Bashir if he ever sets foot on Ugandan territory since the Sundan leader is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity and crimes of genocide in Darfur.

The petitioner contends that since Uganda is a signatory to the Rome Statute, it has the obligation to arrest Mr Bashir and hand him over to the ICC for prosecution.

The civil society also wants court to issue a declaration that the failure by the attorney general and the justice minister to arrest President Bashir in May last year when he came to attend President Museveni's swearing-in ceremony, was inconsistent with Sections 2 (a) (b) and (e) of the International Criminal Court Act and against Articles 89 (1) of the Rome Statute and also in breach of United Nations Security Council.

Further in the application, the civil society group contends that the International Criminal Court Act provides for close cooperation with the ICC regarding the arrest and surrender of persons for whom arrest warrants have been issued and that Uganda should do so in regard to Bashir.

On Monday this week, six civil society organisations, jointly issued a press statement demanding that President Bashir be arrested and handed over to ICC since Uganda ratified to the Rome Statute.

The civil society organisations led by Human Rights Network-Uganda, said that inviting an "international criminal suspect" to Uganda not only undermines the fight against impunity which Uganda has for long championed but also betrays the concerns and interests of the victims of the most heinous crimes.

On Tuesday, President Museveni held "private" discussions with the visiting Sudanese president Omar-al-Bashir at his Kisozi farm in Gomba District.

During the Kisozi meeting, Ms Linda Nabusayi, the President's press secretary, said on her Twitter, that the duo also discussed the River Nile cooperation, including industrialisation and electrification as one of the ways to save the river.

Sudan, takes up roughly 70 per cent of the River Nile. The Nile's catchment area is also shared by Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Egypt, and Kenya.

However, Egypt and Sudan declined to sign a new charter known as the Cooperative Framework Agreement or the Entebbe Agreement, which seeks to redefine cooperation and sharing of the world's longest river.

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