We, the undersigned organizations, are seriously concerned over reports of a possible return visit to Kenya by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir-sought by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of international crimes committed in Darfur-for a meeting of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) that will discuss the January 2011 referendum on Southern Sudan in late October or November.
Kenya and other neighboring states may understandably have serious concerns about stability in the region, particularly in the lead-up to the referendum. However, even under these circumstances, it remains incumbent that states that are dedicated to justice for serious crimes in violation of international law manage security challenges in ways that do not undermine the fight against impunity and the upholding of the rule of law.
A visit by President al-Bashir would run counter to Kenya's declared commitments to the International Criminal Court. It would also send damaging signals to victims of mass atrocity in Darfur and globally, and undermine Kenya's credibility on issues of justice.
Following the visit of President al-Bashir to Kenya in August 2010, Kenyan officials cited the African Union (AU) July summit decision calling for non-cooperation in the arrest of President al-Bashir as grounds for welcoming him in Kenyan territory without arrest in August. This decision is contrary to Kenya's obligations as a state party to the ICC. Moreover, Kenya's own domestic law-the International Crimes Act and the Kenyan Constitution (under section 2(6))-require that the Kenyan government uphold its commitment to cooperate with the ICC.
For all of these reasons, we urge the Kenyan government to clearly affirm its commitment to cooperate with the ICC, as states such as South Africa and Botswana have done, and clarify that President al-Bashir will be arrested should he enter Kenya. This will be an important way to show respect for victims in Darfur, along with Kenya's commitment to accountability for crimes committed during electoral violence in Kenya.
Action of Christian Activists of Human Rights in Shabunda, South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo
African Assembly for the Defense of Human Rights, Dakar, Senegal and Conakry, Guinea
African Association for the Defence of Human Rights, South Kivu, DRC
African Development and Peace Initiative, Adjumani, Uganda
Amnesty International, Cotonou, Benin
Association for Human Rights and the Penitentiary World, Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo
Association of Victims of Crimes of the Regime of Hissene Habré, N'Djamena, Chad
Burkinabe Coalition for the ICC, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Cameroonian Coalition for the ICC, Douala, Cameroon
The Center for Research on Environment, Democracy and Human Rights, Goma, DRC
Central African Republic Coalition for the ICC, Central African Republic
Children Education Society, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
Civil Resource Development and Documentation Center, Enugu, Nigeria
Congolese Coalition for Transitional Justice, Bukavu, DRC
Congolese Initiative for Justice and Peace, Bukavu, DRC
Coalition for the ICC, Cotonou, Benin
East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, Kampala, Uganda
Human Rights Network-Uganda, Kampala, Uganda
Human Rights Watch, Johannesburg, South Africa
International Center for Transitional Justice, Nairobi, Kenya
International Crime in Africa Programme, Institute for Security Studies, Pretoria, South Africa
Ivorian Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists, Nairobi, Kenya
Nigerian Coalition for the ICC, Abuja, Nigeria
Southern Africa Litigation Center, Johannesburg, South Africa
Uganda Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Kampala, Uganda
Uganda Victims Foundation, Lira, Uganda
West African Human Rights Defenders Network, Lomé, Togo
(List of signatories updated October 21, 2010 and October 25, 2010.)
The signatories are among the most active members of an informal network of African civil society organizations and international organizations with a presence in Africa who have been working on Africa and the International Criminal Court.