Rights Groups Call for Blocking Bashir's Visit to Chad

(Photo: Ammar Abd Rabbo/Flickr)

The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir will fly to Chad on Friday to attend the Community of Sahel-Saharan (CEN-SAD) summit, state media reported.

Sudan official news agency (SUNA) said that Bashir will be accompanied in the two-day visit by presidential affairs minister Bakri Hassan Saleh, foreign minister Ali Karti and minister of Environment and Forestry Hassan Abdel-Gadir Hilal.

SUNA did not confirm whether Bashir will travel to Libya afterwards as reported earlier this week by the state-linked Sudanese Media Center (SMC) to attend the celebrations commemorating the outbreak of the revolution that toppled the regime of late leader Muammar Gaddafi.

This will be the third visit by Bashir to Chad which is a signatory to the Rome Statute, the founding document of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Bashir has been wanted by the Hague-based court since 2009 on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan's war-torn Darfur region.

African countries rallied behind Bashir and issued resolutions stating that they will not cooperate with the ICC in apprehending the Sudanese leader even in Bashir visits to countries which have ratified the Rome Statue.

This has enabled Bashir to visit African ICC signatories such as Kenya, Djibouti and Chad without incidents.

During Chad's thorny relations with Sudan, president Deby vowed to execute the arrest warrant against Bashir and rejected AU resolutions granting him immunity. However, as relations improved Deby reversed his position.

The AU summit that took place in Addis Ababa last month omitted the usual mention of urging its members to ignore ICC warrant against Bashir.

Close to 100 human right groups and law societies across Africa signed a letter addressed to the Chadian president urging him to honor his country's obligations to the ICC.

"Permitting President al-Bashir to visit Chad without executing these warrants would run counter to Chad's obligations as a state party to the Rome Statute of the ICC, in particular Articles 86 and 89(1). It would also send damaging signals to victims of mass atrocities in Darfur and globally, and undermine Chad's credibility on issues of justice and accountability," said the letter seen by Sudan Tribune.

"[W]e urge the Chadian government to clearly affirm its commitment to cooperate with the ICC, as states such as South Africa, Uganda and Botswana, and Malawi have already done, and clarify that should President al-Bashir enter Chad, he will be arrested. This would be an important way to demonstrate respect for victims of the crimes committed, along with Chad's commitment to end impunity".

Similarly, the president of the ICC Assembly of State Parties Tiina Intelmann transmitted a demarche to ambassadors of Chad in New York and in Brussels today to urge cooperation by Chad with the ICC. She also wrote a letter to Chad's foreign minister Moussa Faki Mahmat.

Bashir also accepted an invitation by Deby to another summit taking place on March 11th in Ndjamena on "Africa's Green Belt", the privately-owned Al-Shorooq TV said.



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