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Zambia: Civil Society Groups Urge Arrest of al-Bashir

ICC Member States Obliged to Arrest Fugitives on Their Territories

(Johannesburg, December 13, 2010) - The Zambian government should make clear that President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan will be arrested if he travels to Zambia, African civil society organizations and international organizations with a presence in Africa said in a letter to the Zambian president made public today.

News reports indicate that al-Bashir may travel to Zambia to attend the special summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region to be held on December 15, 2010, in Lusaka. Al-Bashir is subject to two warrants issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes committed in Darfur, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

"Zambia has an obligation to assist the ICC in enforcing its outstanding warrants against al-Bashir," said Lee Habasonda, director of the Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes. "If al-Bashir is granted entry into Zambia and then not arrested, it would send the wrong signal to victims in Darfur."

Zambia is a state party to the ICC. The court's treaty, the Rome Statute, requires states to cooperate with the court, which includes the execution of arrest warrants. The ICC has no police force and thus depends on member states to enforce its orders. The United Nations Security Council referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC prosecutor on March 31, 2005.

Al-Bashir's travels have recently been curtailed amid calls for his arrest. Early in December, al-Bashir cancelled a scheduled trip to the Central African Republic for independence celebrations in Bangui. Anticipated travel by al-Bashir to Kenya was forestalled in October with the relocation of an Intergovernmental Authority on Development meeting from Nairobi to Addis Ababa.

The following organizations have signed the letter:
Action of Christian Activists for Human Rights in Shabunda, South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

African Development and Peace Initiative, Adjumani, Uganda

Association for Human Rights and the Penitentiary World, Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo

Association of the Shipowners on Lake Kivu, South Kivu, DRC  

Burundi Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Bujumbura, Burundi

Caritas Zambia, Lusaka, Zambia

The Center for Research on Environment, Democracy and Human Rights, Goma, DRC

Children Education Society, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Cotonou, Benin

Congolese Coalition for Transitional Justice, Bukavu, DRC

DITSHWANELO - The Botswana Centre for Human Rights, Gaborone, Botswana

East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, Kampala, Uganda

Group on Research and Action against Marginalisation in the Kivus, DRC

Human Rights Network - Uganda, Kampala, Uganda

Human Rights Watch, Johannesburg, South Africa

International Crime in Africa Programme, Institute for Security Studies, Pretoria, South Africa

Ivoirian Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Abidjan, Ivory Coast

Jesuit Center for Theological Reflection, Lusaka, Zambia

Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists, Nairobi, Kenya

Legal Resources Foundation, Lusaka, Zambia

Liberia Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Monrovia, Liberia

Organisation of Victims of Hissène Habré's Regime, Chad

Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes, Zambia

Southern Africa Development Community Lawyers Association, Gaborone, Botswana

Southern Africa Litigation Center, Johannesburg, South Africa

Synergy of Women for Victims of Sexual Violence, North Kivu, DRC

Uganda Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Kampala, Uganda

VISION Humanitaire Mondiale, DRC

West African Bar Association, Lagos, Nigeria

Zambia Civic Education Association, Lusaka, Zambia

List of signatories updated December 17, 2010.

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