(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.