The president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir has arrived in the Rwandan capital Kigali to attend the 27th African Union (AU) Summit, even though the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a request to the Rwandan government to arrest him.
al-Bashir is in Kigali with about 25 African Heads of state and governments attending the Summit.
The Sudan president is wanted by the ICC to stand trial for crimes against humanity. A similar request made to South Africa to arrest al-Bashir during an AU Summit in the country last year generated heated debates in that country and around the world. The South African authorities refused to arrest al-Bashir.
In 2016, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) dismissed government’s appeal of a High Court ruling that the adoption of the Rome Statute legally obligated South Africa to arrest al-Bashir when he visited the country last year.
The SCA found that the government’s failure to arrest the Sudanese president was unlawful.
It further found that either the government, or its counsel, attempted to mislead the High Court as to the whereabouts of al-Bashir, saying either way the government’s conduct was disgraceful.
The Rwandan government has said it received a request from the ICC to arrest al-Bashir if he entered the country to attend the Summit.
Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo told journalists in Kigali Thursday July 14, 2016 that two days earlier the Rwandan government had received a request from the ICC, asking the country’s authorities to arrest and hand over al-Bashir to the Court, but the Rwandan government dismissed the request, describing it as a ‘distraction.’
“We received a request two days ago from the ICC but we see it as a distraction,” Mushikiwabo said.
She also said Rwanda is not a signatory to the Rome Statute and therefore not obliged to arrest al-Bashir.
The Summit is under the theme: “2016: African Year of Human Rights with a particular focus on the Rights of Women”.
The AU would launch an African passport during the Summit.
The first warrant for the arrest of al-Bashir was issued on March 4, 2009, the second on July 12, 2010.
The warrants of arrest for al-Bashir list ten counts on the basis of his individual criminal responsibility under article 25(3)(a) of the Rome Statute as an indirect (co)perpetrator including: Five counts of crimes against humanity: murder (article 7(1)(a)); extermination (article 7(1)(b)); forcible transfer (article 7(1)(d)); torture (article 7(1)(f)); and rape (article 7(1)(g)); Two counts of war crimes: intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking part in hostilities (article 8(2)(e)(i)); and pillaging (article 8(2)(e)(v)); and;Three counts of genocide: genocide by killing (article 6-a), genocide by causing serious bodily or mental harm (article 6-b) and genocide by deliberately inflicting on each target group conditions of life calculated to bring about the group’s physical destruction (article 6-c).
Rwanda unlike, South Africa, is not a signatory to the Rome Statute.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi, back from Kigali, Rwanda
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