Uganda Will Not Arrest President Bashir, Oryem

Amnesty International has asked Uganda to immediately arrest Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir and hand him over to the International Criminal Court(ICC).

Omar Al-Bashir, who is on the court’s wanted list, arrived in Kampala this morning to attend the inauguration of President Yoweri Museveni.

In a statement issued on Thursday afternoon, Ms Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, says Uganda honor its international obligations and arrest Omar Al-Bashir who is wanted on charges of genocide.

She adds that as a signatory to the Rome Statute, Uganda has an absolute obligation to surrender him to the ICC, failure of which would be a breach of its duty and betrayal of the people of Darfur.

“President Al-Bashir cannot be allowed to evade justice any longer,” said Muthoni Wanyeki.

However, the state minister for international relations Okello Oryem says president Bashir cannot be arrested like a chicken thief. “We did not invite President Bashir to be arrested, we cannot and will not arrest him. In fact we are going to see him off very safely”, Hon. Oryem has told KFM in a telephone interview this afternoon.

The situation in Darfur, Sudan, was referred to the ICC in 2005 by the UN Security Council.

Earlier while delivering his inaugural speech after he was sworn in for another 5-year term at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds in Kampala, President Yoweri Museveni has taken a swipe at the International Criminal Court.
Introducing some of the visiting heads of state , particularly Bashir of Sudan, Museveni said the ICC had lost focus and was a bunch of useless people.

Museveni also attacked the western countries of attempting to impress their powers on African countries.

He said every one  should concentrate on running their own “house” instead of interfering in other countries’ affairs.

Arrest warrants against President Al-Bashir have been outstanding since 2009 on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Darfur from 2003 to 2008.

A recent ruling by the Supreme Court of South Africa called the behaviour of South African authorities “disgraceful” for their failure to arrest President Al-Bashir according to their obligations under South African legislation implementing the Rome Statute, when he travelled to Johannesburg to attend the African Union Summit in June 2015.

In March 2010, the Ugandan parliament passed the International Criminal Court Bill which fully incorporated the law of the ICC into Ugandan law.

The bill also provides for the arrest and surrender of suspects to the ICC. Speaking at the Assembly of States Parties to the ICC in November 2015, Uganda’s representative unequivocally stated the country’s “support to the International Criminal Court in the fight against impunity” and that “this commitment remains unwavering” However, Uganda has also at times been critical of the ICC.

Story By Catherine Ageno