International Criminal Court (ICC) member states should arrest and avoid all non-essential contact with ICC fugitive Omar al-Bashir at a summit of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on 6-7 March 2016.
Sudanese President al-Bashir is subject to two outstanding arrest warrants issued by the ICC in 2009 and 2010 for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Darfur, Sudan. This week marks the seventh anniversary of the first warrant issued for al-Bashir. He has made up to 74 international trips in the intervening period.
“Inviting al-Bashir to Indonesia flies in the face of the election promises of President Jokowi for accountability for grave human rights abuses,” said Amielle Del Rosario, Asia-Pacific regional coordinator at the Coalition for the ICC. “Indonesia must demonstrate its leadership in the region and responsibility to its people by ensuring that when genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes are committed, those responsible are brought to justice.”
Due to the ICC’s lack of enforcement mechanisms, the Court must rely on member states to execute arrest warrants. Although Indonesia is not an ICC member state, the UN Security Council resolution which referred the situation in Darfur to the Court urges all UN members to fully cooperate with the ICC.In 2014, the ICC’s governing body, the Assembly of States Parties (ASP), adopted a resolution urging ICC member states to avoid contact with persons subject to a warrant of arrest issued by the Court, unless such contact is deemed essential.
“Global civil society calls on all ICC member states to abide by the resolution of the Assembly of States Parties on non-essential contact with ICC fugitives by avoiding Omar al-Bashir at the Indonesia summit this week,” continued Del Rosario. “Non-essential contact with an individual subject to outstanding ICC warrants goes against the spirit and purpose of the Rome Statute to end impunity for grave crimes. Such contact lends credibility to suspects enjoying liberty when they should instead be in ICC custody and conveys a message of indifference and disregard to victims of alleged crimes and their families.”
Avoiding contact with persons subject to an ICC arrest warrant is essential to long-term strategies of arrest. It signals that there should be no business as usual with those seeking to evade justice and affirms the integrity of the ICC’s arrest warrants and attests to the importance of cooperation with the Court. Maintaining the validity of the arrest warrants over time will contribute to the marginalization of fugitives which at times becomes a prerequisite to eventual arrest.
The ASP resolution also provides for ICC member states to voluntarily advise the ICC of their own contacts with ICC fugitives on occasions they deem essential. A specific policy on avoiding non-essential contacts is in effect for ICC member states in the European Union. The United Nations also has a policy for its officials and staff on avoiding non-essential contact with persons wanted by the ICC.
Indonesia, the third largest democracy in the world and a central player in the Southeast Asian region, has repeatedly pledged to join the ICC but has yet to follow through. The Coalition repeats its call on the Indonesian government to urgently ratify the Rome Statute.
“Ratification of the Rome Statute in the near future presents Jokowi with a perfect opportunity to live up to his promises. It would be a momentous decision, setting him apart from previous administrations beholden to the perpetrators of abuses and demonstrating a clear commitment to protecting the people he represents from the worst crimes,” Bhatara Ibnu Reza, research expert for Imparsial and spokesperson for the Indonesian Coalition for the ICC. “Indonesian society is strongly in favor of the Rome Statute, and we have been pushing for our government to ratify it for over a decade; Jokowi must respond to this call.”
The ICC is the world’s first permanent international court to have jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Central to the Court’s mandate is the principle of complementarity, which holds that the Court will only intervene if national legal systems are unable or unwilling to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The Coalition for the International Criminal Court is a global network of civil society organizations in 150 countries fighting for justice for victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide through national courts and the International Criminal Court. www.coalitionfortheicc.org
RI defends Bashir’s attendance at OIC Summit, the Jakarta Post
Sudan: 75 trips to 22 countries in 7 years, All Africa
Arrest Bashir in Jakarta- ICC group, The Citizen
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