#GlobalJustice Weekly: Al-Bashir in Uganda | Syria: Surrender or starve | Catastrophe in Yemen

Omar al-Bashir with the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni © KFM

Ugandan NGOs petition high court for arrest of ICC fugitive al-Bashir

Civil society organisations in Uganda this week urged the government to arrest and surrender President Omar Al Bashir of Sudan to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face trial. The Sudanese president left the country unhampered. 

On 15 November 2017, during a hearing hastily convened on the foot of an application by the Uganda Victims Foundation, judges of at the International Crimes Division of the High Court in Kampala declined to issue a provisional arrest warrant for al-Bashir; and declined a short adjournment and fixed the hearing of the case for the arrest on 11 December 2017.

There are two outstanding warrants of arrest against Omar Bashir, issued by the ICC in 2009 and 2010 for the alleged perpetration of crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes in Darfur.

"We call upon the government of Uganda to fulfill its obligations under international and domestic laws by arresting and surrendering President Omar Al Bashir should he be found on Ugandan territory. We also urge the President of Uganda and other Government representatives to support the ICC in its endeavor to fight impunity and achieve global justice," said the press statement from the NGOs. "Inviting an international criminal suspect to Uganda not only undermines 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."

“Uganda’s continued failure to arrest and surrender Omar Al-Bashir is a violation of its obligations in terms of international law and its own domestic legislation”, said Arnold Tsunga, ICJ’s Africa Director. “Not only does it defy the explicit and clear ruling of the International Criminal Court handed down last year, but it also constitutes total disregard for the rights of victims of human rights violations to a remedy and justice.”

The European Union has described the decision to host al-Bashir as 'regrettable'. High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini said that Uganda should "respect its obligations under international law and as a State Party to the ICC."

DOWNLOAD OUR PRESS RELEASE

Uganda country webpage 

Omar al-Bashir webpage

 

Syria: Surrender or starve

Amnesty International has declared that the Syrian government’s campaign of sieges, unlawful killings and forced displacement constitutes crimes against humanity.

Amnesty's report, published on Monday, concluded that 'whole civilian populations have suffered horrific sieges, been subjected to intensive bombardments, and have been given no choice but to leave or die under agreements between the Syrian government and armed opposition groups.'

“While the Syrian government’s stated aim has been to vanquish opposition fighters, its cynical use of ‘surrender or starve’ tactics has involved a devastating combination of sieges and bombardments. These have been part of a systematic, as well as widespread, attack on civilians that amounts to crimes against humanity,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International. 

 

Humanitarian groups struggling in Yemen

As the crisis in Yemen worsens, the United Nations has called on the Saudi-led coalition to open all Yemen’s seaports urgently, saying millions of lives are at risk.

“We have some 21 million people needing assistance and seven million of those are in famine-like conditions and rely completely on food aid,” UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen Jamie McGoldrick said.

Save the Children has warned that more than 50,000 Yemeni are likely to die by the end of the year as a result of disease and starvation caused by the stalemated war in the country. Around 40,000 children are estimated to have died already this year.

UNICEF had only three weeks of vaccine supplies left in Yemen, and both UNICEF and the World Health Organization have had shipments of essential medicines and vaccines blocked in Djibouti.

American Democratic Senator Chris Murphy has broken the silence on the crisis in the USA, stating: “There is a humanitarian catastrophe inside this country [Yemen] of absolutely epic proportion... caused in part, by the actions of the United States of America.... The United States is part of this coalition. The bombing campaign that has caused the cholera outbreak could not happen without us."

 

ICC investigations

Libya: A group of 25 refugees have been evacuated from Libya to Niger to have resettlement claims processed. The move is part of efforts to provide protection for refugees and other vulnerable migrants who travel to Libya, often intending to attempt the dangerous sea crossing to Italy.

CAR: Last week the UN migration agency completed the relocation of 698 internally displaced households from an impromptu camp that formed around the UN peacekeeping mission following attacks in Kaga Bandoro.

Burundi: Burundi has said it will refuse to cooperate with the ICC investigation. Unrest has gripped Burundi since Nkurunziza said in 2015 he would seek a third term in office, triggering protests and a crackdown by security forces.

 

Preliminary examinations

Afghanistan: The Pre-Trial Chamber III of the ICC has approved an order to the Victims Participation and Reparations Section, allowing for the conduct of a preliminary assessments of victim representation for the situation in Afghanistan. 

Ukraine: Ukrainian Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko has said he is convinced that the Russian leadership will appear before ICC for annexation of Crimea and armed aggression against Ukraine.

 

Campaign for Global Justice

The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture has concluded that it will assist the ICC in the monitoring of the conditions of those persons sentenced by the Court.

A UN official has said she would raise the issue of persecution of Myanmar’s Rohingya minority with the ICC, especially issues of sexual violence and torture.

 

Around the world

Judges in the Ratko Mladic case have rejected defense lawyers’ pleas to postpone the judgment. The verdict is expected later this month.

A bill has been presented in the Guatemalan congress last week that may establish a blanket amnesty for military officials accused of international crimes related to the internal armed conflict.

At least 45 civilians have been killed and dozens more wounded in three air raids on a busy market in Syria's western Aleppo province. It is not immediately clear whether the attacks were carried out by Russian or Syrian warplanes.