Prosecutor notifies Pre-Trial Chamber about possible Bashir travel 13 Dec 2010
The Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has informed Pre-Trial Chamber I about the proposed travel of Sudanese President, Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir, to Zambia and Senegal.

In a document made public on 8 December 2010, the Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo, notified Pre-Trial Chamber I of the proposed travel of Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir to the Republic of Zambia and the Republic of Senegal. President al-Bashir has been invited to attend a special summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region on Wednesday 15 December 2010.

The Sudanese President is subject of two warrants of arrest issued by the ICC. The first, issued in March 2009, alleges that al-Bashir bears responsibility under Article 25 (3) (a) of the Rome Statute as an indirect co-perpetrator for seven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, whilst a second, issued on 12 July 2010, contains three counts of genocide.

Both Senegal and Zambia have ratified the Rome Statute – in 2002 and 1999 respectively – and are thus under obligations as States Parties to cooperate with the Court in the execution of outstanding arrest warrants. However, earlier this year, both Kenya and Chad failed to honour these obligations, as al-Bashir was able to visit each state without being arrested.

Since the end of August, the Prosecutor and the Pre-Trial Chamber have appeared to increase the pressure on states to arrest al-Bashir, with the latter issuing various decisions concerning state cooperation with the Court. On 27 August 2010, the Chamber issued two decisions informing the UN Security Council and Assembly of States Parties about al-Bashir’s non-arrest by the authorities of Kenya and Chad. In October 2010, the Chamber requested further observations from Kenya concerning circumstances that would prevent al-Bashir’s arrest, should he have attended a regional conference (the conference was eventually moved to Ethiopia, a non-state party, effectively shielding al-Bashir from arrest). Further, at the beginning of December the Chamber requested formal cooperation from the Central African Republic after reports that al-Bashir was to attend its independence celebrations.

ICC police force

Relations between the ICC and various African States have soured over recent years, in particular following the granting of the arrest warrants for al-Bashir. Whilst the African Union voted to suspend cooperation with the Court concerning the warrants in 2009, several countries including South Africa and Uganda have stated that they would arrest al-Bashir if he were found on their territory.

In the absence of an ICC police force to execute and enforce orders of the Court, the ICC relies on the cooperation of States. In spite of several states demonstrating open contempt for the Court, flouting their obligations under the Rome Statute, there is evidence that al-Bashir has been forced to curtail his travel over fears that he could be arrested and transferred to the detention of the Court in The Hague.

The UN Security Council referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC prosecutor on 31 March 2005, exercising its powers under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. According to the Prosecutor, delivering his biannual report to the Security Council last week, the situation continues to constitute an “on-going genocide”. The Prosecutor also accused the Sudanese authorities of neither cooperating with the Court, nor conducting national proceedings to try those accused of crimes committed in the Western Darfur region.

In addition to al-Bashir, arrest warrants are outstanding for Ahmad Harun and Ali Kushayb.

Situation in Darfur, Sudan

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