Uganda urged to arrest al-Bashir
Activists are calling on Uganda to do what South Africa did not – arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he visits.
A prominent international human rights group has urged the Ugandan government to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and send him to face trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, if he arrives in Uganda.
Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday that unconfirmed reports were doing the rounds that al-Bashir would attend the inauguration of Yoweri Museveni in Kampala on Thursday.
“Uganda’s President Museveni has banned social media and detained some opposition leaders, but he’ll tarnish his inauguration further by welcoming Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, an international fugitive sought for alleged atrocities in Darfur,” said Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW).
“Al-Bashir belongs before the International Criminal Court, not attending inaugural celebrations. If al-Bashir does enter Uganda, Ugandan authorities should arrest him and send him to The Hague.”
HRW noted that al-Bashir faces two ICC arrest warrants, issued in 2009 and 2010 over attacks that deliberately and systematically targeted civilians in violation of international law as part of the Sudan government’s counterinsurgency policy in Darfur.
The attacks led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people to refugee camps in Chad and to camps for internally displaced people in Darfur.
Uganda is a member of the ICC and has asked the court to indict members of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a brutal rebel group which was originally established in northern Uganda though now operates outside of the country.
HRW said that many countries had previously avoided a visit from al-Bashir as activists across Africa campaigned for al-Bashir’s surrender to the ICC.
“Trips to ICC member countries have been cancelled or curtailed, including to Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, Central African Republic, and Nigeria, while countries such as Botswana have made clear he is not welcome,” Burnett said.
The SA government announced last month that it would take the case to the Constitutional Court to try to overturn the appeal court’s ruling.
Pretoria argued in the appeal court that it could not arrest the Sudanese leader because he was protected by the immunity granted on all foreign leaders. – African News Agency