Ugandan Court Issues Arrest Warrant for Sudan's Bashir

Kampala, Uganda — The International Crimes Division of the High Court in Kampala has issued an arrest warrant in respect of Omar al-Bashir and questioned Uganda's failure to arrest him when he last visited Uganda.

Justice Dr Henry Peter Adonyo ordered that the arrest warrant against Bashir must be implemented, and that Uganda is under obligation to arrest him. Court said Uganda's failure to arrest Bashir when he last visited in 2017 was in violation of its national and international obligations

The judge ruled that the state of Uganda has an obligation to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) whenever it is requested to do so under terms of the Rome Statute.

This application filed by the Uganda Victims Foundation (UVF) dates back to 2017 when Bashir as then President of Sudan and wanted by the ICC, visited Uganda.

Justice Henry Peter Adonyo l, Head, International Crimes Division ruled Uganda failed its international obligations when it hosted Omar Bashir despite @IntlCrimCourt warrant for crimes against humanity, war crimes, extermination & others @nickopiyo who brought the case pic.twitter.com/SC5WALCZbb

-- Rosebell Kagumire ♉ (@RosebellK) December 19, 2019

In May 2016, President al-Bashir attended the swearing in ceremony of President Yoweri Museveni. At this occasion, President Museveni called the ICC "a bunch of useless people," and European, United States, and Canadian diplomats who were present at the function walked out in protest.

On November 14-15, 2017, President al-Bashir conducted another state visit to Uganda, again at the invitation of President Museveni. This time he was treated to a red carpet welcome and accorded a 21-gun salute.

On this occasion, a group of civil society organizations (CSOs) in Uganda took action by issuing a statement calling for the Ugandan Government to arrest President al-Bashir.

The Uganda Victims Foundation (UVF) went one-step further and filed an application in a Ugandan court seeking to enforce the arrest warrants for al-Bashir.

CLICK TO READ TWEETS ON THE COURT CASE

A hearing was held at the International Crimes Division of the High Court in Kampala on November 15. However, the court declined to issue a provisional arrest warrant for al-Bashir and instead fixed the hearing on the matter to a later date, effectively quashing any attempts to arrest the Sudanese president.

Today's ruling comes on a day when Sudan marks anniversary of uprising that ousted Bashir

It is a year after demonstrations broke out in Sudan over soaring bread prices.

Celebrations are planned across the country on Thursday to mark the uprising that brought down veteran autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

In the central town of Atbara, the cradle of the revolt, hundreds of people are expected to arrive by train from Khartoum to stay for a week of festivities.

Organised by the transitional government and the protest movement, it is a tribute to the thousands of demonstrators who travelled in the opposite direction to the capital at key moments during the uprising.

It was in the dusty streets of Atbara on the banks of the River Nile that Sudanese held their first rallies in December 2018 against a government decision to triple the price of bread.

The protests swept across the African nation and by April, they had toppled Bashir, who had been in power for three decades.

According to doctors linked to the protest movement, more than 250 people were killed in violence related to the demonstrations against Bashir and the military rulers who initially replaced him.

Amnesty International, which says at least 177 people were killed, on Thursday called on Sudan's transitional authorities to honour their commitments to restore the rule of law and protect human rights.

"The new Sudan authorities must ensure that members of the security forces who committed horrific crimes or used excessive force against protestors are held accountable in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty," said Amnesty's Seif Magango.

In August, after protracted talks with the military, protesters and activists won a deal to set up a transitional government and pave the way for civilian rule.

Former senior UN official Abdalla Hamdok, a veteran economist, was appointed transitional prime minister.

Bashir, in prison since his overthrow, was sentenced on Saturday to two years' detention in a correctional centre for the elderly for corruption -- the first of several cases against him.

The charges stemmed from millions of dollars received by the toppled strongman from Saudi Arabia.

Bashir is also wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The accusations relate to his role in the Darfur war that broke out in 2003, when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against his Arab-dominated government, which they accused of marginalising the region.

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