July 10, 2009 (KAMPALA) — The Ugandan foreign ministry issued a statement today reiterating its commitment to the Rome Statute, which is the founding text of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
- Uganda foreign affairs Sam Kutesa (BBC)
Last week the African Union (AU) summit in Sirte, Libya adopted a resolution instructing its members who are ICC members not to cooperate in apprehending the Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir despite their legal obligations to do so.
Some AU members such as Chad and Botswana have reportedly resisted the resolution. Senior Botswanaian officials said the decision was forced upon the AU members by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who is the Pan-African body chairman.
Uganda appeared to join the ranks of these two countries through their position made today in their press release made Friday.
“As a signatory to the Rome Statute, Uganda Government re-iterates its commitment to the Statute and support to the ICC. This position is shared by the other African States Parties to the Statute who clearly expressed it during the Assembly meeting in Sirte, Libya,” the statement read.
“Uganda Government supports the African Union Assembly Decision….of February 2009 requesting the UN Security Council to defer the ICC indictment for twelve (12) months, in accordance with Article 16 of the Rome Statute”.
The statement makes no reference to the AU decision taken in Sirte or whether Uganda will adhere to it.
The ‘Ultimate Media’ website quoted Ugandan foreign minister Sam Kuteesa as telling reporters in Kampala that the decision is viewed by many as “a manifestation of lack of respect and support for the ICC Rome Statute by African leaders”.
Kuteesa said that the AU simply wants an AU deferral to allow African countries “to investigate further on Bashir’s case such that they can give their recommendations on his indictment”.
The independent Sudanese Al-Sahafa newspaper reported that Bashir is scheduled to visit Uganda on July 26 to take part in the Ugandan-Turkish forum.
Uganda’s stance on Bashir’s arrest warrant has been ambiguous despite backing AU decision criticizing it.
The Ugandan president Yoweri Musievini said last March that he wants neither to “condemn Bashir” nor “condone his actions”.