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Al-Bashir Not To Visit CAR: Latest Press Releases and News Coverage
01 Dec 2010
While President Al-Bashir was invited to attend the ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the independence of the Central African Republic (CAR) on December 1, 2010, sources are reporting that President Al-Bashir did not attend today’s celebration.
This message includes related press releases issued by Coalition members Parliamentarians for Global Action and Amnesty International (I), a media advisory and a cooperation request issued by the International Criminal Court (II), as well as related news coverage (III).
Please also take note of the Coalition's policy on situations before the ICC (below), which explicitly states that the CICC will not take a position on potential and current situations before the Court or situations under analysis. The Coalition, however, will continue to provide the most up-to-date information about the ICC.
For additional information you may refer to the Coalition's website at www.coalitionfortheicc.org
I. COALITION MEMBERS MEDIA RELEASES
1. “Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) Welcomes the Absence of the Sudanese President at the Ceremonies of the Fiftieth Anniversary the Independence in CAR,” ("L’action Mondiale des Parlementaires (PGA) Salue l’Absence du Président Soudanais aux Cérémonies du Cinquantenaire de l’Indépendance en RCA”) , press release, Parliamentarians for Global Action, 1 December 2010, http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/documents/PR_PGA-RCA_1_Dec_2010.pdf [French]
[Informal translation provided by the CICC Secretariat]
“Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA), a network of over 1300 legislators in more than 100 elected parliaments around the globe, learnt this morning with satisfaction that the announced visit of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to the Central African Republic did not take place.
Mr. al-Bashir had been invited to attend the ceremony of the fiftieth anniversary of the independence of the CAR, held today in Bangui. After Kenya and Chad, this visit would have marked the third time that Mr. al-Bashir, under an arrest warrant of the International Criminal Court (ICC), would have been present on the territory of a state party to the ICC Statute Rome.
Parliamentarians for Global Action mobilized its national group “PGA-RCA”, which is chaired by MP Jean-Serge Bokassa, Rapporteur of the Committee of Foreign Affairs, and is also represented by MP Maurice Bangayassi. Dr. David Donat Cattin, Director of PGA’s International Law Programme, welcomed this development, stating that “CAR must conform to the obligation to arrest and surrender any suspect under an arrest warrant to the Court or, alternatively, to bar him entry to the territory of the Central African Republic.
The Central African government must pay attention to avoid applying a double standard by accommodating genocide suspects like Mr. al-Bashir, while the Central African victims of rape and assassinations are participating in the trial against Mr. Jean Pierre Bemba in The Hague”, he added on behalf of his organization.
One can argue that a careful interpretation of the provisions in articles 334/335 and others in the new criminal procedure code, adopted on September 30, 2009 with the support of the PGA-RCA members of Parliament, can conclude that the Public Prosecutor of the Republic has the obligation to execute all arrest warrants issued by the ICC. The Central African law does not foresee any discretion or possibility of refusing the binding requests of the Court.
The ICC Rome Statute imposes an obligation on member states to cooperate fully with the Court and does not allow any reservation or condition to limit this cooperation, particularly in the execution of arrest warrants. The Rome Statute provides that the Assembly of States Parties can take any measure to address the lack of cooperation of states parties.
“PGA Members had the impression that this invitation was initially sent by the Central African government invoking a decision of the African Union which calls for its members not to arrest this suspect. However, should CAR not respect this AU decision, only an additional decision made unanimously by AU states parties could result in sanctions against CAR. Conversely, a simple majority of the 114 states parties to the ICC Rome Statute could impose measures against a state that does not respect its obligation to cooperate with the ICC, even as state would urgently need to receive support and cooperation from the international community to reinforce the rule of law and its legal system in order to promote the fight against impunity,” indicated Dr. Donat Cattin. “In solidarity with the victims of the atrocities allegedly committed in Darfur, Sudan, we congratulate the CAR government for this decision not to host Mr. al-Bashir on the territory of his country,” he concluded.
This said, the CAR national group of PGA, represented by MPs Bokassa and Bangayassi, noted the paradox of calling for unity and solidarity to promote human rights in Africa, while at the same time supporting the position of the African Union, the most important pan-African institution, of exempting a head of state from facing international justice. ..."
2. “Central African Republic must arrest Omar al-Bashir during visit,” Amnesty International, Press Release, 1 December 2010, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/central-african-republic-must-arrest-omar-al-bashir-during-visit-2010-12-01
“Amnesty International has called on the Central African Republic (CAR) to arrest wanted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and surrender him to the International Criminal Court (ICC), should he go ahead with his planned visit to the country today.
President Bashir is wanted on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for his role in the conflict in Darfur.
"The Central African Republic should not shield President Omar al-Bashir from international justice," said Christopher Keith Hall, Senior Legal Adviser at Amnesty International.
“His visit to the country is an opportunity to enforce the arrest warrant and send a message that justice will prevail."
"Today, an ICC Pre-Trial Chamber requested the CAR 'to take all necessary measures to arrest Omar Al Bashir and transfer him to the Court'.
If it were not to arrest President Omar al-Bashir, the CAR would violate its obligations under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which it ratified in October 2001.
President Omar al-Bashir has reportedly been invited to attend a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the CAR's independence in the capital Bangui today.
Since it started in 2003, the Darfur conflict has seen more than 300,000 killed, thousands raped and millions forcibly displaced.
An arrest warrant for President Bashir was issued by the ICC in March 2009 on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes. A further arrest warrant with three charges of genocide in Darfur was issued in July 2010.
Amnesty International has called on all members of the international community to ensure full accountability for crimes under international law committed in Sudan.”
II. ICC PRESS RELEASE AND COOPERATION REQUEST
1. “Pre-Trial Chamber I requests the cooperation of the Central African Republic to execute the warrants of arrest of Omar Al Bashir,” ICC Press Release, ICC-CPI-20101201-PR605, 1 December 2010, http://www.icc-cpi.int/Menus/Go?id=8f0b6ff8-cf0c-45ce-9be8-9b0770ab47d3&lan=en-GB
“On 1 December, 2010, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) requested the Central African Republic to take all necessary measures to arrest Omar Al Bashir and transfer him to the Court, in the event and at the moment that he arrives in the country’s territory.
Reacting to information of a possible visit of the suspect to the Central African Republic today, the Chamber noted that, as a State Party to the Rome Statute since the 3 October, 2001, the Central African Republic has the obligation to execute the warrants of arrest of Mr Al Bashir and requested the Central African Republic to inform the Chamber immediately about any problem which would impede or prevent the arrest and surrender of Mr Al Bashir in the event that he visits the country.
On 4 March, 2009, Pre-Trial Chamber I issued a first warrant of arrest against Mr Al Bashir, considering that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the suspect is criminally responsible for five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes. A second warrant of arrest was issued against Mr Al Bashir on 12 July, 2010, for three counts of genocide.
On 27 August, Pre-Trial Chamber I had issued two decisions informing the United Nations Security Council and the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute about Mr Al Bashir’s visits to the Republic of Kenya and the Republic of Chad, “in order for them to take any measure they may deem appropriate”. Pre-Trial Chamber I had also requested observations from the Republic of Kenya on the enforcement of warrants of arrest against Mr Al Bashir on 25 October, 2010, in the event he visits the country...”
2. « Demande de coopération et d'informations adressée à la République Centrafricaine » (“Cooperation and information request addressed to the Central African Republic”), ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I, ICC-02/05-01/09-121, 1 December 2010, http://www.icc-cpi.int/Menus/Go?id=917b1faa-0042-4353-a531-5b9601d46bfd&lan=en-GB [French]
III. RELATED MEDIA COVERAGE
A. COALITION MEMBERS QUOTED
1. “Rights Group Criticizes CAR Invite to Sudan's Bashir,”By Peter Clottey, Voice of America, ‎1 December 2010, http://www.voanews.com/english/news/africa/Rights-Group-Criticizes-CAR-Invite-to-Sudans-Bashir-111087684.html
“A spokesman for Human Rights Watch (HRW) has expressed concern that Central African Republic (CAR) has invited Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir to participate in its 50th anniversary independence celebrations Wednesday.
Reed Brody told VOA his rights group is disappointed the government in Bangui has refused to enforce the international arrest warrants against Mr. Bashir, who is charged with committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.
‘We have been in touch with the human rights organizations in the CAR and, obviously, we are all very concerned and, as a state party to the ICC (International Criminal Court), the Central African Republic has an obligation to help the ICC in the execution of the arrest warrants,’ said Brody.
‘The Central African Republic in particular is a country that has called for ICC intervention and is benefiting from the ICC’s investigations into atrocities committed in CAR in 2002-2003. So, it is particularly disappointing that the CAR would ignore the arrest warrants against (Mr.) Bashir.’
Critics say, despite the international arrest warrants against the embattled Sudanese leader, President François Bozizé’s government invited Mr. Bashir to participate in that country’s independence celebrations.
But, supporters of the CAR administration said the invitation is part of an effort to promote good neighborliness, as well as strengthen diplomatic ties between Bangui and Khartoum.
… ‘I think, in fact, it overshadows the importance of the Central African Republic’s ceremony. It will take away all of the other news. The news of the day will be that (Mr.) Omar Al-Bashir, who is wanted by the international community for war crimes in Darfur, has walked in and out of Central African Republic. It’s sad for international justice (and) is also sad for the CAR.’…”
2. “Rights groups call on Central African Republic to block entry of Sudanese president”, Sudan Tribune, 1 December 2010, http://www.sudantribune.com/Rights-groups-call-on-Central.html
“A number of civil society groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) urged the government to adhere to its obligations ahead of an expected visit by Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir on Wednesday morning.
Today the pro-government Al-Rayaam newspaper quoting unnamed sources said that Bashir will join the country’s Golden Jubilee Independence Day celebrations during his quick visit….
CAR is a state party to the ICC and is therefore theoretically obligated to arrest Bashir once he sets foot in its territory. Furthermore, the Hague tribunal is currently adjudicating a case related to crimes committed in CAR by Jean-Pierre Bemba described as a Congolese warlord.
….If Bashir makes the trip, this would be the third to a country that is a member of ICC after Kenya and Chad.
‘As a state party, Central African Republic has the obligation to help the ICC in the execution of the arrest warrants against Al-Bashir,’ recalled Lucille Mazangue, a lawyer at the Association of Female Magistrates of CAR.
‘For Al-Bashir to be allowed to enter Central African Republic without being arrested would be an affront to victims of Darfur and would put into question CAR’s commitment to justice’ Mazangue added.
Other groups reminded Bangui government that Bemba was arrested through the help of another nation.
‘The victims here could never have seen Jean-Pierre Bemba answering for the crimes he is accused of without Belgium’s cooperation with the ICC,’ said Sebastien Mboutou of the Central African Coalition for the ICC.
‘Central African Republic should either bar Al-Bashir from entering its territory, or do what Belgium did with Bemba and stop him.’…”
B. OTHER NEWS
1. “Sudan's Bashir absent from C.African Rep. event”, Reuters, 1 December 2010, http://af.reuters.com/article/libyaNews/idAFLDE6B019I20101201?sp=true
“ Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir missed Central African Republic's independence celebration on Wednesday after what a local official said was diplomatic pressure for the genocide indictee to stay away.
Bashir, whose indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes in Sudan's Darfur has restricted his movements to friendly nations, also failed to show up for a European Union-Africa summit in Libya earlier this week.
The ICC had urged Central African Republic to comply with an international obligation to arrest Bashir if he turned up.
There was no official explanation for Bashir's absence from the event in its neighbour. But an aide to Central African Republic President Francois Bozize said it followed a long conversation late on Tuesday between Bozize and French Cooperation Minister Henri de Raincourt, who was present.
… Bashir's absence from two regional events in the space of less than a week is an indication of the concerted diplomatic pressure on even nearby countries to shun him.
In Khartoum, a presidential source said Bashir had decided not to attend the event, without elaborating on the reasons. …”
2. “Central African Republic convinces Sudanese president to stay away”, Sudan Tribune, 1 December 2010, http://www.sudantribune.com/Central-African-Republic-convinces.html
3. “International war crimes court urges Central African Republic to arrest Sudan's al-Bashir”, Canadian Press/Truro Daily News, 1 December 2010, http://www.trurodaily.com/News/Canada - World/Society/2010-12-01/article-2007791/International-war-crimes-court-urges-Central-African-Republic-to-arrest-Sudans-alBashir/1
4. “ICC asks Central African Republic to arrest Bashir on visit”, DPA/Monsters & Critics, 1 December 2010, http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/africa/news/article_1602697.php/ICC-asks-Central-African-Republic-to-arrest-Bashir-on-visit
5. “War crimes court: arrest Sudan's al-Bashir,” The Associated Press / Washington Post, 1 December 2010, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/01/AR2010120102998.html
6. “La CPI demande à la République centrafricaine d'appliquer le mandat d'arrêt contre Omar el-Béchir” (ICC asks Central African Republic to execute the arrest warrant against Omar al-Bashir), AP/Le Nouvel Observateur, 1 December 2010, http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/actualite/monde/20101201.FAP1799/la-cpi-demande-a-la-republique-centrafricaine-d-appliquer-le-mandat-d-arret-contre-omar-el-bechir.html [French]
7.“Bashir Heading to Central African Republic On Wednesday,” Sudan Tribune, 30 November 2010, http://allafrica.com/stories/201012010163.html
8. “La France embarrassée par la possible présence d’Omar el-Béchir au cinquantenaire de l’indépendance de la Centrafrique” (France discomfited by the possible presence of Omar al-Bashir at the 50th anniversary of independence of the CAR), RFI, 1 December 2010, http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20101201-france-embarrassee-possible-presence-omar-el-bechir-cinquantenaire-independance-cen [French]
9. “Will the Central African Republic Arrest Omar Al Bashir Tomorrow?,” By Mark Leon Goldberg, UN Dispatch, 30 November 2010, http://www.undispatch.com/will-the-central-african-republic-arrest-omar-al-bashir-tomorrow
10. “African Union backs Sudan's Bashir,” AFP, 1 December 2010, http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5j3lSJdJEmfYnWueadEE3nUsuds4w?docId=CNG.10af55f3e3cb08c769737268f0f3bdbc.a61
11.“Sudan Boycotts AU-EU Summit over Bashir Indictments,” by Peter Clottey, Voice of America, 28 November 2010, http://www.voanews.com/english/news/africa/Sudan-Boycotts-AU-EU-Summit-over-Bashir-Indictments---110945799.html
CICC's policy on the referral and prosecution of situations before the ICC:
The Coalition for the ICC is not an organ of the court. The CICC is an independent NGO movement dedicated to the establishment of the International Criminal Court as a fair, effective, and independent international organization. The Coalition will continue to provide the most up-to-date information about the ICC and to help coordinate global action to effectively implement the Rome Statute of the ICC. The Coalition will also endeavor to respond to basic queries and to raise awareness about the ICC's trigger mechanisms and procedures, as they develop. The Coalition as a whole, and its secretariat, do not endorse or promote specific investigations or prosecutions or take a position on situations before the ICC. However, individual CICC members may endorse referrals, provide legal and other support on investigations, or develop partnerships with local and other organizations in the course of their efforts. Communications to the ICC can be sent to: ICC P.O. box 19519 2500 CM the Hague The Netherlands