Uganda Referred to U.N. for Failure to Arrest Omar Al-Bashir

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In short
In two separate decisions, ICC Judges led by Cuno Tarfusser faulted Uganda and Djibouti for not arresting and surrendering Bashir while he was present on their territories to attend inauguration ceremonies in May 2016, thereby preventing the Court from exercising its functions and powers under the Rome Statute.

The International Criminal Court has referred the governments of Uganda and Djibouti to the United Nations Security Council for failing to arrest Sudan's president Omar Al-Bashir.

Bashir is under two International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrants for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed in Darfur.

In two separate decisions, ICC Judges led by Cuno Tarfusser faulted Uganda and Djibouti for not arresting and surrendering Bashir while he was present on their territories to attend inauguration ceremonies in May 2016, thereby preventing the Court from exercising its functions and powers under the Rome Statute.

Bashir last visited Uganda on the occasion for the swearing-in ceremony of President Yoweri Museveni.

Uganda and Djibouti, as state parties to the Rome Statute, are obliged to execute ICC arrest warrants.  However, President Museveni has on several occasions accused the ICC of being partisan and targeting Africans.

The ICC last month requested Uganda to submit, by June 24, observations with respect to the failure to arrest and surrender Omar Al-Bashir.

In the submission, Uganda said that the invitation to President Al-Bashir was informed by the standpoint that continuous engagement of leaders in the region, Al-Bashir included, is both important and unavoidable.

Uganda also made reference to a decision made by the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government that the AU member states shall not cooperate with the Court's request for arrest and surrender of Omar Al-Bashir to the Court. The decision was in accordance with article 98 of the Rome Statute concerning immunity to sitting Heads of State.

But the judges stated in the referral to the Security Council, that Ugandan authorities did not raise with the Court any problem they might have identified in the execution of the ICC's requests.

The ICC added that legal obligations to the Rome Statute cannot be put aside or qualified for political expediency.

State Minister for foreign affairs Henry Okello Oryem told URN in an interview that the status of Africa's allegiance to the ICC will be discussed during the 27th African Union Summit now underway in Kigali, Rwanda.

"The discussion will take place on whether African member states who subscribe to the ICC can remain or pull out, this is because many of the countries think the ICC is not helping them," Oryem says
 

The Security Council, which referred the Darfur case to the ICC in 2005, has the power to sanction Uganda and Djibouti over the matter.

The situation in Darfur, Sudan, was referred to the Court by the United Nations Security Council in 2005 paving way for investigations by the ICC Prosecutor and subsequent warrants issued on March 4 2009 and July 12 2010.

Bashir faces five counts of crimes against humanity (murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture and rape), two counts of war crimes (intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population), and three counts of genocide allegedly committed against the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups in Darfur, Sudan, from 2003 to 2008.
 

 

About the author

Sylvia Nankya
Sylvia is an Editor and Media Trainer with Uganda Radio Network. She has been a URN staff member since 2013. Sylvia has previously worked as a reporter and news anchor with Radio One (2001-2009) and with Vision Group (2009-2011). Six of her active years in Journalism were spent covering the Parliament of Uganda.

Over the past few years, Sylvia has worked to promote the positive development of societies recovering from conflict through training journalists on choices of stories, how they report issues and use of appropriate language in covering conflict and post-conflict situations.

She is an Alumni of RNTC- Holland, Les Aspin Centre for Government at Marquette University-WI, USA and a Community Solutions Fellow.