According to reports published Monday at the Sudanese Media Center, International Criminal Court (ICC) indictee President Omar Al-Bashir will be visiting Chad this coming weekend to participate in the Summit of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States. The same article, adds that after this visit, the Sudanese President will be visiting Libya to participate in the celebrations of the 17 February Revolution.
If this information were true, then, Chad would not be complying -- for the third time -- with its obligation to enforce the outstanding arrests warrants issued by the ICC against President Omar Al Bashir. The Sudanese president is subject to two arrest warrants for atrocities committed against his own people, in Darfur.
The first arrest warrant was issued in March 2009 on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The second -- issued in July 2010 -- was on charges of genocide. According to the latest report by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to the UN Security Council (UNSC), Darfur's civilian population continues to be targeted by government forces, with the ongoing widespread occurrence of sexual and gender based violence, crimes against human rights defenders, civil society members and community leaders.
The ICC has been involved in the Darfur situation, following upon a formal request of the UNSC since 2005. According to the letter of the Resolution 1593/95, the situation in Sudan was a "threat to international peace and security." Therefore, States members to the UN ought to demonstrate their respect for the UNSC acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter and comply with the obligation to cooperate fully with the ICC.
Furthermore, Chad as a state party to the ICC has the obligation to cooperate with the Court. Mostly given the fact that the Court has no police to enforce its decisions and it relies on States to help in the arrest of persons whom arrest warrants have been issued. Therefore, cooperation from States is crucial: in case Bashir steps a foot in Chad, the country should execute the arrest warrant and arrest the Sudanese President immediately.
Sadly, this would not be the first time Al-Bashir visits a state party since he has been indicted by the ICC for hideous crimes: he visited Chad twice (in 2010 and in 2011). He also visited other States Parties that also failed in their obligations: Djibouti (2011), Kenya (2010) and Malawi (2011).
After he paid his second visit to Chad in 2011, the ICC decided that the country had not met "its obligation to fully cooperate with the court by failing to arrest and surrender Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir during his visit". Following its decision, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber 1 referred the matter to the UNSC and to the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statue, the governing body of the Court.
"By allowing Al Bashir to visit, the Chadian government has again violated its obligations under the Rome Statute to execute the ICC's arrest warrants," said Stephen Lamony, Senior Adviser to the NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court -- "If Al Bashir does enter the Chadian territory, the United Nations Security Council and the Assembly of States Parties should act promptly take the measures they deem appropriate to ensure full cooperation with the ICC".
Hosting Bashir is being accomplice to a genocidal regime that continues to kill and rape its own population with total impunity. The conflict has already affected the lives of over 2.5 million people.
"The fact that Al Bashir can repeatedly travel to Chad without ever worrying about being arrested is another insult to Darfuri victims," stated Linda Gueye, Head of Communications at the Coalition. "Al Bashir will once again benefit from media attention while victims will continue to suffer in silence".
If we, as international community are committed to stop Bashir, stop the slaughter of civilians, the rape and the starvation, then, political reasons should not continue to interfere with but should respect and implement judicial decisions, such as the one taken by the ICC when it issued two arrest warrants for Bashir.
Chad should arrest Bashir.
It was the first state to harbor Bashir after the first arrest warrant was issued. Now, it has the chance to change history and become the country that arrested and surrendered Bashir to the ICC.