To Foreign Ministers of EU Member States
We write with regard to the upcoming presidential inauguration of Omar al-Bashir, scheduled for May 27, 2010, to express deep concern over reports that diplomatic representatives of your government might attend the inauguration.
As you know, President al-Bashir is subject to an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in March 2009 on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for atrocities committed in Darfur. States parties are obligated to cooperate with the ICC under the court's Rome Statute, and states should demonstrate support for its work. Consistent with these objectives, ICC states parties should not attend meetings or events with al-Bashir unless absolutely essential.
An inauguration cannot in our view be justified as an essential meeting. Notably, United Nations (UN) guidelines that limit UN contact with indicted individuals state that "[t]he presence of UN representatives in any ceremonial or similar occasion with [persons indicted by international criminal courts] should be avoided." ICC states parties should follow the same principles regarding their possible interactions with persons subject to ICC arrest warrants.
Moreover, we believe attending the inauguration would send a terrible message to victims of international crimes not only in Darfur, but globally, that their suffering is being disregarded. Attendance also risks signaling that your government is not committed to the ICC's success, which would be particularly unfortunate in the week leading up to the first review conference of the ICC's Rome Statute, which will take place in Kampala, Uganda from May 31 to June 11, 2010. The review conference will be a moment of significant attention to the court's work and an important time to showcase state party dedication to the cause of international justice.
In addition, the European Union (EU) has regularly denounced Sudan's failure to cooperate with the ICC's investigations and to execute pending arrest warrants. The EU has called on Khartoum to comply with its obligations under Security Council resolution 1593, which referred Darfur to the ICC. In June 2008, the EU foreign affairs ministers and the EU heads of government and state publicly pledged that they would consider "additional measures" against those responsible for this non-cooperation. Since then, almost two years have elapsed, and Sudan is still obstructing the work of the ICC and denying justice to victims of grave international crimes in Darfur. Attendance at the inauguration would be wholly inconsistent with the EU's approach to the ICC and its investigation and prosecution of crimes committed in Darfur.
We understand that there is no EU common position on whether to attend al-Bashir's inauguration. We therefore urge you to send clear instructions to your diplomats that your country will not be represented at the May 27 event in Khartoum and to urge other EU foreign minister colleagues to do the same.
Should you have any questions about this important matter, please do not hesitate to contact us.
International Justice Director
Acting Africa Director
Catherine Ashton, High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy
Andris Piebalgs, Commissioner for Development
Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament
Heidi Hautala, Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, European Parliament
Ambassadors of the Political and Security Committee
Representatives of the Africa Working Party
Representatives of the Working Party on Public International Law