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Letter to ICC States Parties on the Presidential Inauguration of Omar al-Bashir

To Foreign Ministers of States Parties to the International Criminal Court

Dear Minister:

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 a diplomatic representative 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.

Should you have any questions about this important matter, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely,

Richard Dicker
International Justice Director

Rona Peligal
Acting Africa Director

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