By Calvin Osiemo
Fresh calls have been launched into the arrest of Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir who is wanted by the International Criminal Court to stand trial for crimes against humanity. International civil society groups have called upon states that are members of the ICC to help the institution in arresting suspects who are wanted by the court.
Speaking during the celebration of the anniversary of the adoption of the ICC Rome statute on Friday, the Umbrella of the civil society groups, Coalition for the ICC convener William R. Pace said it is the responsibility of every state to help in bringing to justice suspects by helping the court to arrest them. The Coalition has urged member states to put in place systems, laws and agreements that will support the ICC process.
“States must ensure that anyone subject to arrest warrants for the worst crimes under international law should be detained and transferred to the court regardless of their position. When governments fail to arrest those accused, it is an insult to the victims who wait years for justice and recognition,” Mr. Pace said.
The calls come after South Africa failed to arrest Bashir when he attended a regional African Union summit and secretly escaped South Africa despite a court order barring him from leaving the country awaiting a decision of whether he would be arrested and surrendered to the ICC. Bashir was indicted in 2009 by the ICC for alleged genocide and war crimes in Darfur in which over 400,000 people lost their lives and over 2.5 million were displaced.
However, one of the major challenges facing the execution of the arrest warrants is the immunity granted to sitting heads of states.
The civil society groups have been forced to step in to compel member states to honor their obligations to the court and arrest the suspects.