In a welcome rebuke to fugitives from international justive, Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir was forced to cancel a trip to Indonesia at the last minute this week.
The Sudanese president was scheduled to travel to Indonesia for the 2015 Asian-African Summit, but the visit was cancelled when he was reportedly denied permission to fly over several states.
Al-Bashir is accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur. The ICC has issued two warrants for his arrest.
Amielle Del Rosario, Asia-Pacific coordinator at the Coalition for the ICC:
“Al-Bashir’s attendance at the Asian-African Summit would have been a black mark on Indonesia’s human rights record and an insult to the victims of Darfur. The states that denied him their airspace to travel have taken a strong stand against impunity. More should follow their lead. The Indonesian government should take this near-miss as an opportunity to put in place a strong policy on avoiding contact with ICC fugitives and reaffirm its commitment to justice and human rights for all. Becoming an ICC member would be a good place to start.”
Civil society had called on Indonesia to withdraw its invitation to Al-Bashir, noting the country’s human rights commitments. While Indonesia is not a member of the ICC, the UN Security Council resolution which referred the situation in Darfur to the Court urges all UN members to fully cooperate with the Court.
In a statement, the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) and the Indonesian Coalition for the ICC criticized the Indonesian government for agreeing to host Al-Bashir:
“The visit of President Omar Al-Bashir to Indonesia on the occasion of the Asian-African Conference must be used by Indonesian President Joko Widodo to show his commitment towards International law and mainstreaming human rights in Indonesian diplomacy. Indonesia, as a member of the Human Rights Council, must cooperate with International Criminal Court and respect international law.”
In a letter to Indonesian President Joko Widodo, BashirWatch—a network of several civil society groups, including our Coalition—called on Indonesian authorities to bring Al-Bashir to justice:
“The Bashir Watch Coalition urges the Government of Indonesia to stand for justice for the people of Sudan and refuse to allow an individual charged with genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity into its territory. If Bashir enters Indonesia, this coalition calls on the Indonesian authorities to arrest him and transfer him to the ICC so that he can face the charges against him.”
The Bashir Watch Coalition, KontraS and the Indonesian Coalition for the ICC each also called for Indonesia to join the ICC.
Due to the ICC’s lack of enforcement mechanisms, the Court must rely on member states to execute arrest warrants. Unfortunately, a number of countries have failed to do so, including ICC member states Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Civil society strenuously objected to Al-Bashir’s travel to those countries, and in Nigeria filed a motion to compel the government to arrest the Sudanese president, prompting him to abruptly leave the country.
Elise Keppler, Human Rights Watch:
“Victims in Darfur deserve to see justice and governments should help see this done, including by restricting al-Bashir’s travel. He belongs in one place only – facing charges in The Hague.”
In 2011, public pressure forced the cancellation of a planned visit to Malaysia. At the time, a Malaysian official said Al-Bashir’s appearance could prove to be an “embarrassment” to the country.