Catch me if you can: Omar Bashir and the ICC
Bashir arrived Indonesia on Sunday to attend an Organisation of Islamic Co-operation summit. The co-operation of non-party states like Indonesia is envisioned by the ICC Rome Statute to be of voluntary nature.
But Indonesia, which is not signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC) but bound by the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol I of the United Nations, is expected to arrest Bashir while he is on their soil.
Bashir is accused of masterminding genocide and other atrocities in his campaign to crush a revolt in the western Darfur region. The ICC issued an international arrest warrant for him in 2009 and 2010.
An obligation for all countries in the United Nations to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law, which stems from the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol I, also compels the Asian country to adhere to ICC’s warrant.
But Bashir, who has evaded several arrests, and defied the Hague-based court over the years, is likely to evade arrest, once again, in Indonesia.
In April last year when Bashir planned to go to an Asia-Africa leaders conference in Jakarta, Indonesians rights groups protested and called for him to be arrested upon arrival. The Sudanese leader was forced to cancel his trip to Indonesia at the last minute.
In June last year, Bashir evaded arrest in South Africa when he snuck out of the country after a court ruled he should be banned from leaving until the parliament voted on his possible arrest.
And in September last year he visited China to attend celebrations commemorating the end of World War Two. China, a member of the UN Security Council failed to arrest him.
Bashir, who has ruled Sudan since a 1989 Islamist and army-backed coup continues to reject the ICC’s authority, and dribbles his way through countries that are legally or morally obliged to arrest him.
His extensive travels across the continent have also taken him to Ethiopia, Mauritania, Kenya, Djibouti, Egypt and Chad, including a brief visit to Nigeria.
Although the wording of the ICC Rome Conventions is not precise as to what steps have to be taken by a non-party country like Indonesia regarding an ICC wanted criminal, when a case is referred to the ICC by the UN Security Council, all UN member states are obliged to co-operate, since its decisions are binding on all of them.
The Bashir-Darfur-Sudan case was referred by the United Nations Security Council.