Rights groups call on Central African Republic to block entry of Sudanese president
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
||November 30, 2010 (KHARTOUM) – A number of civil society groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) urged the government to adhere to its obligations ahead of an expected visit by Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir on Wednesday morning.
Today the pro-government Al-Rayaam newspaper quoting unnamed sources said that Bashir will join the country’s Golden Jubilee Independence Day celebrations during his quick visit. He will return to Khartoum for a meeting of his party later that evening. The Sudanese leader is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and genocide allegedly committed in Darfur region in the west of the country.
CAR is a state party to the ICC and is therefore theoretically obligated to arrest Bashir once he sets foot in its territory. Furthermore, the Hague tribunal is currently adjudicating a case related to crimes committed in CAR by Jean-Pierre Bemba described as a Congolese warlord.
There has yet to be an official confirmation to the visit by Khartoum on state media. If Bashir makes the trip, this would be the third to a country that is a member of ICC after Kenya and Chad.
“As a state party, Central African Republic has the obligation to help the ICC in the execution of the arrest warrants against Al-Bashir,” recalled Lucille Mazangue, a lawyer at the Association of Female Magistrates of CAR.
“For Al-Bashir to be allowed to enter Central African Republic without being arrested would be an affront to victims of Darfur and would put into question CAR’s commitment to justice” Mazangue added.
Other groups reminded Bangui government that Bemba was arrested through the help of another nation.
“The victims here could never have seen Jean-Pierre Bemba answering for the crimes he is accused of without Belgium’s cooperation with the ICC,” said Sebastien Mboutou of the Central African Coalition for the ICC.
“Central African Republic should either bar Al-Bashir from entering its territory, or do what Belgium did with Bemba and stop him.”
The African Union (AU) has instructed all its members through two resolutions not to cooperate with ICC in executing the warrant though not all countries have agreed to the directive.
This week, the Sudanese president was forced to stay away from the 3rd Africa-EU summit held in Tripoli after pleas by Libyan officials who feared a mass walkout by EU states from the summit if he shows up.