El-Bashir in Kenya Despite ICC Arrest Warrant
Despite the arrest warrant issued to Sudan’s President Omar El-Bashir, on Friday, Omar attended the promulgation of Kenya’s new constitution as the guest of the state.
This didn’t go down well with the international community who criticized Kenya for failing to arrest Bashir as per the ICC agreement.
The International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) and International Centre for Policy and Conflict (ICPC) asked the government to arrest Mr Bashir since Kenya is a signatory of the International Criminal Court.
“His presence reminds the government that as a Rome Statute member state, it is under an obligation to arrest him as he has been indicted by the ICC,” said ICTJ Head Njonjo Mue.
“Inviting President al-Bashir to Kenya is an act of impunity and a clear indication that Kenya is not ready to cooperate with the ICC. His presence here is an insult to the people of Kenya and the victims of the post election violence,” he emphasised.
“Kenya will forever tarnish the celebration of its long-awaited constitution if it welcomes an international fugitive to the festivities. Even worse, hosting al-Bashir would throw into question Kenya’s commitment to cooperate with the ICC in its Kenyan investigation,” said Elise Keppler, Senior Counsel in the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch.
“Whether Kenya allows a suspected war criminal into Kenya is a test of the government’s commitment to a new chapter in ensuring justice for atrocities. The Kenyan government should stand with victims, not those accused of horrible crimes, by barring al-Bashir from Kenya or arresting him, said Keppler”
Uganda was also accused of failing to cooperate with the ICC after it refused to arrest al-Bashir when he visited the country. Uganda is also a signatory of the Rome Statute. Kenya being a signatory to the Rome statute was supposed to arrest him upon entry into the country.
Mr. Bashir faces two arrest warrants: one issued in July by the International Criminal Court in The Hague on three counts of genocide and one from March 2009 for war crimes and crime against humanity.
The international warrants for his arrest have largely restricted Mr. Bashir’s travels to friendly countries in Africa and the Middle East that have resisted Western pressures to do the court’s bidding.
Leaders who attended the great the landmark occasion included former UN Secretary General Koffi Annan, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, President Ahmed Abdalla Sambi of the United Republic of Comoros, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda and Zanzibar’s President Amani Abeid Karume.
Others who graced the historic and colourful occasion were former Presidents Daniel Arap Moi of Kenya, Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and John Kuffor of Ghana among other local and international dignitaries.