Plans by Sudan’s president to attend a World War II victory commemoration in China next week and a United Nations session later next month have angered rights groups seeking to remind the world about the international warrants for his arrest.
The Sudanese leader, Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted for prosecution by theInternational Criminal Court at The Hague on charges including genocide and war crimes in the country’s Darfur region, has eluded the warrants since the first one was issued in 2009.
“It is outrageous that anyone would welcome him into their border without arresting him,” Tom Andrews, president of the Save Darfur Coalition, a Washington-based advocacy group, said Thursday.
Elise Keppler, acting director of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch, said that “Omar al-Bashir should be in The Hague facing justice, not in China celebrating at their World War II event.”
Mr. Bashir, 71, has seemed to take public delight in defying the warrants, which he has called groundless, and the inability of the court, so far, to enforce them.
Nonetheless, Mr. Bashir has been forced to scrap or scramble his travel itinerary on several occasions. He appeared to avoid arrest in South Africa by a matter of hours in June, abruptly flying home from an African Unionmeeting.
Mr. Andrews said his group had begun to “lay the legal groundwork” for Mr. Bashir’s arrest in the United States, should he go through with his plan to attend a United Nations summit meeting on development goals in New York.
While rights groups can do nothing to thwart Mr. Bashir’s visit to China, which has close relations with his government, Mr. Andrews said, “a moral statement will be made by those whose country he is seeking to enter.” Mr. Bashir is among the leaders of 30 countries, including Russia and Venezuela, who will attend China’s World War II parade next Thursday. President Obama was among the Western leaders who declined invitations.
But Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, is expected to attend, raising the awkward prospect that Mr. Ban, an ardent defender of the International Criminal Court, could be standing alongside Mr. Bashir, the only head of state under indictment by the court for genocide. Mr. Ban’s office said he had no plans to meet with Mr. Bashir in China.
News of Mr. Bashir’s plan to participate in the United Nations development meeting, which takes place after the annual General Assembly, first emerged Aug. 3 when his name appeared on the provisional itinerary of speakers for Sept. 26.
The United States, as the United Nations’ host country, is obliged by treaty to issue visas to visiting heads of state, even those it finds distasteful. A State Department spokesman, Mark C. Toner, said then that he was unaware a visa had been requested, but that “we’ve been very clear how we feel about the president of Sudan and that he’s wanted for crimes, and we want to see him held accountable.”
Mr. Bashir is wanted on charges arising from the systematic killing, torture and rape of civilians in Darfur more than a decade ago. Roughly 300,000 people were killed and more than two million were uprooted.
Neither China nor the United States is a member of the International Criminal Court. But both are permanent members of the Security Council, which decided in a resolution to send the Darfur case to the court in 2005. Rights advocates say that hosting fugitives of the court is not in the spirit of the resolution, which urges all countries to cooperate.
Mr. Bashir had wanted to attend the General Assembly two years ago, and the United States signaled its disapproval then as well. He canceled his appearance as rights groups mobilized to take legal action.
He has faced other embarrassing travel episodes. He made a brief appearance at an African Union summit meeting in Nigeria in July 2013 but vanished after rights groups there filed a lawsuit calling for his detention.
While he has been welcomed in countries including China, Egypt, Chad and Qatar, others, including Uganda and Turkey, have disinvited him from international events. In 2011, while traveling to Beijing, his aircraft was forced to turn back while traversing the airspace of Turkmenistan without permission, and he arrived a day late.