US warns China over Bashir trip

The United States expressed concern Monday that Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir plans to visit China, despite his International Criminal Court indictment for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

The Sudanese foreign ministry said Sunday that Bashir would travel to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and attend September 3 celebrations marking Japan’s defeat in World War II.

Speaking in Washington, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters the United States continues to believe Bashir should not be welcome to travel until he faces justice.

“As you know, he’s been charged by the ICC — the International Criminal Court — with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide,” he said.

“Warrants for his arrest remain outstanding and we strongly support the ICC’s efforts to hold accountable those responsible for those acts,” Toner added.

“We oppose invitations, facilitation or support for travel by persons subject to outstanding ICC warrants.”

The International Criminal Court indicted Bashir over war crimes and crimes against humanity in 2009 and on genocide charges in 2010, all relating to the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region.

He has since regularly travelled to Sudan’s neighbors but rarely makes long-distance trips that could see him exposed to possible arrest.

He last travelled to China, which has significant interests in Sudan’s oil sector and supports his government, in 2011.

China and the United States are not signatories to the ICC but both are permanent members of the UN Security Council, which referred the Darfur case to the court.

The Darfur conflict erupted in 2003 when ethnic insurgents rebelled against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government, complaining of marginalization.

It has left 300,000 dead and some 2.5 million displaced, according to UN figures, and Bashir’s forces have been accused of large-scale atrocities against civilians.

Photo Credits : AFP

ICC hands Bashir case to UN after Sudan fails to arrest leader

Sudan has failed to arrest its long-time leader Omar al-Bashir for genocide and war crimes, the International Criminal Court ruled on Monday, referring the matter back to the UN Security Council.

Bashir, 71, is wanted by The Hague-based ICC, the world’s only permanent court, for his role in the western Sudanese region of Darfur where insurgents rose up in 2003 in an ongoing conflict that has left more than 300,000 people dead.

He faces five counts of crimes against humanity including murder and torture, three of genocide and two of war crimes including attacking a civilian population.

The ICC in 2009 and 2010 issued two warrants against Bashir, but he continues to travel across the African continent despite a legal obligation by ICC member states to arrest him.

Sudan itself has not signed up to the ICC’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, but has been a member of the United Nations since 1956.

The Security Council referred the Darfur situation to the ICC for investigation in a 2005 resolution and Sudan, as a UN member is therefore obliged to cooperate, the tribunal judges said.

“The chamber considers that Sudan not only disregarded the 2009 and 2010 requests related to its obligations to cooperate in the arrest and surrender of Omar al-Bashir,” they said.

Khartoum also failed to inform the ICC why it could not carry out the arrest.

“This course of action calls upon the Security Council to take the necessary measures they deem appropriate,” the judges said.

The judges however warned that if no action was taken, the Security Council would never achieve its goal to end impunity for the world’s worst suspected offenders.

Bashir, who is gearing up for an April election expected to return him to office, last month accused the ICC and Western powers of “hounding” him.

He claimed the ICC was part “of the tools used to destabilise Sudan”, and said there never was a genocide in Darfur.

Apart from Bashir, four other Sudanese including a rebel leader is also on the ICC wanted list.

Photo Credits : AFP