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East Africa: ICC Tasks Uganda To Explain Failure To Arrest Bashir

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Thursday, May 19th, 2016
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The International Criminal Court (ICC) has formally asked Ugandan government to explain its failure to arrest and surrender Sudan’s President, Omar al-Bashir for trial.

Bashir, who is wanted for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur was in Uganda on May 12 to witness the swearing in of President Yoweri Museveni.

During the ceremony, Museveni described the ICC as ‘a bunch of useless people’, saying they had withdrawn their initial support for the court after realising that it was a ‘useless body’. Museveni said issues of the ICC do not concern them (African leaders).

The ICC Registry sent a verbal and written note to Ugandan authorities reminding them of their obligation to arrest and surrender wanted suspects.

According to Phakiso Mochochoko, the ICC head of Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation division, Uganda as a member of the Rome Statute is obliged to arrest and detain any suspect wanted by the court.

Mochochoko says they want Uganda to explain why it failed to comply and arrest Bashir in accordance with its obligations under the Rome Statute.

“The judges seek clarification from the relevant state(s), and then will render their ruling on whether a State Party has failed its obligations under the Rome Statute and in so doing prevented the Court from exercising its functions and powers under the Rome Statute” Mochochoko states.

Mochochoko however says this judicial process is ongoing and it is premature to speculate on its final outcome at this stage. He says that having ratified the Rome Statute, Uganda must also refrain from conduct that undermines the object and purpose of that treaty.

According to Machochoko, it is particularly disturbing that a number of suspects indicted by the Court remain at large and even more disturbing when suspects travel to State Party countries without being arrested as is the case here with Uganda.

When contacted on the matter, the deputy Government spokesperson Colonel Shaban Bantariza said that the Government will answer ICC accordingly.

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