Home | News    Monday 9 May 2011

Egypt promises Sudan’s Bashir immunity once it joins ICC

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May 8, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The Egyptian government assured Sudan that president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir will not be arrested on its territories once Cairo ratifies the Rome Statute which is the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

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Egyptian foreign minister Nabil Elaraby (L) meeting with his Sudanese counterpart Ali Karti in Cairo May 7, 2011 (Egypt Foreign Ministry website)

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for allegedly orchestrating war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Sudan’s western Darfur region against the African tribes of Fur, Zaghawa and Masaalit.

Last month, the Egyptian foreign minister Nabil Elaraby said that his country will soon accede to the Rome Statute as part of its efforts to become a "legally constituted state" after the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak last February.

Egypt followed the path of Tunisia which also saw a popular uprising last January that toppled the regime of Zine el Abidine Ben Ali who stayed in power for 23 years. The major Arab power signed the Rome Statute in 2000 but has yet to ratify it, a process which required parliamentary review.

The topic was subject of discussion between Elaraby and his Sudanese counterpart Ali Karti who was on a visit to Cairo.

Sudan’s foreign ministry spokesperson Khalid Moussa was quoted by the country’s official news agency (SUNA) as saying that Egypt will invoke Article (98) of the Rome Statute which will allow it to receive Bashir without being obligated to arrest him.

Article 98 of the Rome Statute prohibits the Court from requesting assistance or the surrender of a person to the Court if to do so would require the state to "act inconsistently" with its obligations under international law or international agreements either regarding its own third-party states or international agreements either regarding its own third-party states unless the state or the third-party state waives the immunity or grants cooperation.

The United States under George Bush’s administration has signed bilateral immunity agreements with over 100 states under this clause to protect its citizens from possible ICC prosecutions and being extradited to the Hague.

In an interview with the independent Al-Shorooq newspaper last April in Cairo, the Egyptian top diplomat referred to Article 98 with regard to the status of Bashir should he visit. However, he fell short of saying that Egypt will resort to this legal tactic.

Sudanese officials have privately expressed concern over Egypt’s intention to join the court which they see as a blow to their efforts to undermine the ICC in Africa and the Arab world.

The former Sudanese justice minister Abdel-Basit Sabdarat echoed the sentiment telling a visiting Egyptian delegation consisting of political leaders on Sunday that Cairo should review its decision on joining the ICC.

"I blame the Egyptian foreign ministry for their decision to ratify the [Rome] treaty which was rejected by the Arab League besides ignoring the feelings of the brotherly Sudanese people which the court is working to threaten their security," Sabdarat said.

"Did Egypt solve all its internal and external problems to worry in the present time about joining the ICC?" he added.

Sabdarat further said that Sudanese people felt "stabbed in the back" when Egyptian officials met with ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo during his visit to Cairo in late March. He said that the Egyptian diplomacy should act in a more "awareness" when dealing with Sudanese issues.

The New-York based Human Rights Watch (HRW) hailed Egypt’s decision to ratify the Rome Statute saying that it sends an important message to Egyptians about the direction the country intends to take.

"At a time when there is a major risk of crimes against humanity and war crimes in many countries in the region, the move by Egypt to ratify the Rome Statute sends a strong message that the days of absolute impunity for these crimes are ending," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

"Foreign Minister El-Araby’s announcement is very significant" Whitson said. "Now Egypt should make a clear break with the obstructionist foreign policy of its predecessor, and take a leading role in protecting human rights in Africa, at the UN, and on international justice."

(ST)

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  • 9 May 2011 06:40, by Hero

    That’s stupid idea. Egypt like flip flopping always when it comes to sensitive issues. South Sudan need to be keen when dealing with Egypt at any front.

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  • 9 May 2011 07:12, by Michael Miyom Minyiel

    Eygpt needs to arrest Bashire in future should she joins Rome statue.Bashire killed almost all Darfurians which the Icc wanted him in its desk of justice.We know most of Arabs are islamists which makes it difficult to apprend Bashire based on Arabs objection to a just law.

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    • 9 May 2011 07:52, by Dakin

      Egypt is just tricking Bashir. Bashir might be at large at the moment but the ICC arrest warrant issued against him must come into effect one day one time

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  • 3 April 2013 20:51, by dennishobson

    pYk7F3t1Mn14lllWXZFmbnEXfuTiNzcarros ssanyong deck madeira plastica composite decking The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought youd have

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