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EU criticizes Bashir’s visit to Chad despite ICC warrant

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August 8, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The European Union (EU) on Monday expressed concern over a visit by Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir to Chad for the swearing-in ceremony of Chadian leader Idriss Deby to a new five-year term.

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Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir (C) waves with Chad’s President Idriss Deby (L) as he arrives to attend Deby’s inauguration ceremony in N’Djamena August 8, 2011 (Reuters)

Chad, a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC), decided not to execute the arrest warrant issued against Bashir in 2009 and 2010 on ten counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide he allegedly masterminded in Darfur.

This is Bashir’s second visit to his western neighbor since the warrant was issued. Deby has initially vowed to enforce the arrest warrant and rejected African Union (AU) resolutions instructing its members not to apprehend Bashir.

However as thorny relations between the two countries dramatically improved, Deby allowed Bashir to visit in July of last year. The Chadian government then referred to the AU decision to justify receiving the Sudanese president despite the warrant and dismissed criticism by rights groups.

The EU spokesperson of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton said in a statement today that it is important for all Member States of the United Nations abiding by and implementing the resolutions adopted by the Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, in this case, UNSCR 1593 (2005).

Ashton urged Chad to respect its obligations under international law to arrest and surrender those indicted by the ICC.

"The European Union is a staunch supporter of the ICC and the fight against impunity. The Court is a valuable instrument of the international community to ensure that there is no impunity for the most serious crimes of international concern; genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes must not go unpunished and their prosecution must be ensured by measures at both domestic and international level".

ICC judges had reported the non-compliance of three member countries to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the ICC assembly of state parties but no action was taken.

But the AU summit held in June cleared Chad, Djibouti and Kenya from any wrongdoing in receiving Bashir saying they were conforming to the Pan-African body’s resolution in this regard.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) also chided Chad over its decision to receive Bashir again.

“A return visit by al-Bashir would make a mockery of Chad’s commitments to the International Criminal Court, and would be an insult to victims of atrocities in Darfur and globally,” said Balkees Jarrah, international justice counsel with Human Rights Watch.

“Al-Bashir is a fugitive from justice for heinous crimes in Darfur. As a state party to the ICC, Chad is obligated to arrest al-Bashir, who is wanted on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity."

(ST)

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