Human Rights Network-Uganda, (HURINET-U) and the Uganda Coalition on the International Criminal Court (UCICC) are dismayed to learn that Government of Uganda has again extended an invitation to President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan to attend an International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) Heads of State Summit from 15th-16th December 2011. This development is of great concern following stataments made by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hon. Okello Oryem who publically stated on WBS Prime News on-Sunday 04 December, 2011 that “Uganda has no cause to arrest President Bashir” and thatas a head of state he was free to come to Uganda while responding to Kenya’s High Court issuance of arrest warrant to Bashir last week.
Uganda is a State Party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The country has also domesticated the Rome Statute of the ICC by enacting the ICC Act-2010; which has provisions that set out obligations for close cooperation with the Court with regard to arrest and Surrender of persons on who arrest warrants have been issued. Further the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1593 that referred the Darfur situation to the ICC imposes obligations on all UNSC members to arrest and surrender all persons including President al-Bashir. Aware of these obligations, Uganda should not have invited Bashir unless she wants to arrest him.
Article 27 of the Rome Statute disregards the official capacities of Heads of State and states that immunities of Heads of States are of no consequence to the Court’s processes. Uganda also has obligations under Article 4 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union that obliges States to take measures to fight impunity; this is in addition to obligations under the Great Lakes Protocols that call upon states to arrest and Surrender Persons who may have committed serious crimes.
Inviting an international criminal suspect to Uganda not only betrays the fight against impunity which Uganda has for long championed but also betrays the concerns and interests of the Victims of the most heinous crimes both in Uganda and in the Darfur.
This action by Uganda portrays a systematic trend by some African States that have failed to cooperate with the Court. Bashir has in the past year and over visited Kenya, Chad, Djibouti, and Malawi. The ICC must continue to invoke Article 87(7) of the Rome Statute as failure to do so will only continue to promote greater violations of the Statute and this must be stopped.
We therefore call upon Uganda to respect and fulfill her obligations under International Law:
- · By revoking the invitation that has already been sent to President al-Bashir and making it clear that he would be arrested in case he steps foot in the country just like Botswana and South Africa have on previous occasions done.
- · Arrest and surrender President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to the ICC in the unfortunate event that he attends the summit
- · Take her international obligations seriously and continue to cooperate with the Court.