September 24, 2013 (WASHINGTON) - An American advocacy group has urged the UN chief not to insist on Washington’s obligation to grant a visa to the Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir as international diplomats expressed doubts on his arrival to New York.
- Sudanese president Omer Al-Bashir speaks during a press conference in Khartoum on 22 September 2013 (Photo ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images)
The Sudanese foreign ministry has previously reiterated its demand that a visa is issued for Bashir in accordance with the 1947 UN Headquarters Agreement.
Yesterday Bashir said that he has made travel plans to New York through Morocco airspace and even booked a hotel there during the UN General Assembly meetings this week.
He also challenged the US, as a non-ICC member, to apprehend him during his planned stay.
The US up till Monday would not give a status on Bashir’s visa request but revealed that the ICC warrant will be considered.
Today, a US-based group called on UN top man to lift Bashir’s immunity.
"We urge you to waive President Bashir’s privileges and immunities under the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations (“Convention on Immunities”) and to waive the U.S. Government’s visa obligations under the Agreement Between the United Nations and the United States Regarding the Headquarters of the United Nations, said the International Justice Project (IJP) in a letter addressed to UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon.
The group went further to say that releasing the U.S. administration from these requirements will enable Washington to enforce the arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Bashir over Darfur war crimes and genocide since 2009.
The ICC issued an arrest warrant in March 2009 for Bashir over crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur. In July 2010, the court released a second arrest warrant, accusing him of genocide. Sudan is not a member of the court but the case was referred to The Hague based tribunal by the UN Security Council in 2005.
According to Foreign Policy magazine, UN and international diplomats appeared skeptical of Bashir’s trip.
"That’s my assumption [that he’s not coming], but we’re planning on anything," a senior U.N. official told Foreign Policy. "Would he want to see the [General Assembly] hall clear out?"
Another diplomat said the American officials are seeking to convince Bashir that his journey to New York is unworthy and it would be difficult for them to predict what may haopen.
"They’re trying to explain to [Sudanese officials] how difficult this could be for [Bashir] and that it could create a situation that is not entirely in [American] control," said the official who was speaking to Foreign Policy under the cover of anonymity.
In New York, the UNSG spokesman refused to say whether Ban would meet with Bashir in line with UN policy of limiting contact with ICC-indicted individuals.
In a decision issued last week, the ICC judges invited the U.S. administration to arrest the Sudanese president and surrender him if he enters the American territory.
The war crimes court stressed that " The Chamber recalled that non-States Parties may decide to cooperate with the Court on an ad hoc basis. The US, as a non-State Party to the Statute, has no obligations vis-à-vis the Court arising from the Statute."