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Human Rights Groups Call on Chad to Arrest Sudan's President Bashir

  • Michael Onyiego

Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir (R) walks with Sudan's First Vice President and south Sudan leader Salva Kiir at the airport in Khartoum, as he prepares to leave for Chad, 21 Jul 2010

Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir (R) walks with Sudan's First Vice President and south Sudan leader Salva Kiir at the airport in Khartoum, as he prepares to leave for Chad, 21 Jul 2010

International Human Rights organizations are urging Chad to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during his visit to the country this week.

Two warrants have been issued for Mr. Bashir's arrest by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The Sudanese president is accused of committing crimes against humanity and genocide in his role as commander-in-chief during the guerilla war in Darfur, which began in 2003.

Sudan estimates that 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict, but the United Nations estimates that over 300,000 have been killed and 2.7 million displaced since 2003.

Mr. Bashir has denied the charges presented, but has limited his international travel since the issue of the warrants, visiting only states which have not signed the Rome Statute, which governs the court.

Chad is the first signatory of the statute to be visited by the president since 2009. Mr. Bashir is in the capital, N'djamena, for a meeting of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States.

News of the trip has prompted an outcry from human rights organizations. The International Federation for Human Rights demanded Thursday that Chadian authorities immediately arrest the Sudanese president.

The group's permanent representative to the International Criminal Court, Mariana Pena, said that Chad was legally required to present Mr. Bashir to The Hague for trial.

"States Party to the International Criminal Court, including Chad, are under the obligation to execute arrest warrants," said Pena. "This is why the International Federation for Human Rights is calling upon the Chadian government to immediately arrest President Bashir and surrender him to the International Criminal Court. Chad is under the legal obligation to do so. If it doesn't execute the arrest warrant, it will be violating its international obligations, and, in a way, it will be associating itself with the horrendous acts committed by the Sudanese regime."

Relations between Chad and Sudan have been tense in recent years. Chad, which borders Darfur, has been accused by Sudan of supporting rebel groups, an accusation which it has also leveled at Sudan.

In recent months, relations between the two appear to have normalized. In February, the countries reached an agreement to stop funding rebels across their borders, and President Bashir is scheduled to hold bilateral talks with Chadian authorities after the summit.

The Associated Press also reported that the Mayor of N'Djamena gave Mr. Bashir a key to the city upon his arrival Wednesday.

While initially declining to invite the Sudanese president to the Summit, Chad has now welcomed him, and officials have expressed no interest in executing the warrant against him. Mr. Bashir was also confident he would not be arrested during his visit, telling reporters that Chad and Sudan were "brothers" and had resolved their differences.

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