Sunday, November 08, 2009

Al-Bashir should be arrested, not invited

He is back in town. Omar Hassan al-Bashir, president of Sudan, against whom the International Criminal Court, or ICC, has issued an arrest warrant, has been invited to a meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, or OIC, in Istanbul. Last year, al-Bashir visited Turkey twice and despite national and international protests the Turkish government seems to have no intention at all of changing its policy on allowing a person into the country that is under strong suspicion of being responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

First the facts. Between 2003 and 2008, according to United Nations estimates, 300,000 people were killed in Darfur, a region in Sudan where armed groups oppose the central government. A campaign against these rebels was organized that included unlawful attacks on that part of the civilian population of Darfur perceived to be close to the organized armed groups. In March 2009, the ICC found that al-Bashir, as the de jure and de facto president of Sudan and commander-in-chief of the Sudanese Armed Forces, is suspected of having coordinated the design and implementation of that campaign.

Until today, 110 countries have ratified the Rome Statute establishing the ICC. The Court will only intervene if national legal systems are unable or unwilling to do so. The Court can automatically exercise jurisdiction over crimes committed on the territory of a state that is a member of the ICC or by a national of that state. ICC members must cooperate with the court, including surrendering suspects when requested to do so by the court. Turkey has not yet ratified the Rome Statute despite promises made by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan dating back to 2004. Read more >>>>>>>>>

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