Uproar over Bashir visit to Kenya

August 27, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 27 – International and local human rights bodies have expressed dismay at the presence of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir at the promulgation of the new Kenyan Constitution.

The International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) and International Centre for Policy and Conflict (ICPC) asked the government to arrest Mr Bashir since Kenya is a signatory of the International Criminal Court.

“His presence reminds the government that as a Rome Statute member state, it is under an obligation to arrest him as he has been indicted by the ICC,” said ICTJ Head Njonjo Mue.

ICPC Executive Director Ndung’u Wainaina also criticised the government for inviting Mr Bashir and said it contradicted the government’s claim to end impunity.

“Inviting President al-Bashir to Kenya is an act of impunity and a clear indication that Kenya is not ready to cooperate with the ICC. His presence here is an insult to the people of Kenya and the victims of the post election violence,” he emphasised.

Human Rights Watch urged Kenya to bar him from entering the country or arrest him once he entered the Kenyan territory.

“Kenya will forever tarnish the celebration of its long-awaited constitution if it welcomes an international fugitive to the festivities. Even worse, hosting al-Bashir would throw into question Kenya’s commitment to cooperate with the ICC in its Kenyan investigation,” said Elise Keppler, Senior Counsel in the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch.

The international human rights body said that Kenya was a state party and is required to cooperate with the court in the execution of arrest warrants.

Keppler also argued that since Kenya is also being investigated by the ICC, it should honor its pledge of giving the ICC the full cooperation and act according to that promise.

“Whether Kenya allows a suspected war criminal into Kenya is a test of the government’s commitment to a new chapter in ensuring justice for atrocities. The Kenyan government should stand with victims, not those accused of horrible crimes, by barring al-Bashir from Kenya or arresting him, said Keppler”

Uganda was also accused of failing to cooperate with the ICC after it refused to arrest al-Bashir when he visited the country. Uganda is also a signatory of the Rome Statute.

Mr was indicted by the ICC for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Since the issuance of the arrest warrant, he has been at large forcing the ICC to call on member states to cooperate and arrest him. 

But it has been a major challenge for the court which has no police of its own and only relies on member states to arrest people indicted.


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