FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE— March 29, 2017
[NEW YORK, NY] - Yesterday, Jordan welcomed Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s President, for the Arab League’s annual summit. Bashir is attending despite two longstanding arrest warrants from the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his actions in Darfur, including rape, murder, torture and extermination. He has been charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity and has been a fugitive from the ICC since 2009.
Jordan, as a party to the ICC’s Rome Statute, has an obligation to arrest Bashir and turn him over to the court. Jordan also has obligations as a party to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide to cooperate with international criminal proceedings to hold genocidaires accountable. In 2015, South Africa similarly failed to arrest Bashir when he attended an African Union summit.
“When countries like Jordan and South Africa allow Bashir to visit and fail to arrest him, they are not only in violation of their obligations under the Rome Statute to cooperate with the ICC, but their obligations under the Genocide Convention as well,” says Akila Radhakrishnan, Vice-President & Legal Director of the Global Justice Center. “The International Court of Justice, in its 2007 decision in the Bosnia-Serbia Genocide case, found that when Serbia failed to cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and arrest Ratko Mladic when he was on Serbian territory, they violated their obligations to punish under the Genocide Convention. What is happening in Jordan today is no different—Jordan's failure to take action puts it in violation of its international obligations. GJC joins Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Arrest Bashir Campaign and other NGOs in calling for Jordan and the international community to take immediate action to end impunity for war crimes.”
Since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, over 1 million refugees have poured into Jordan. “Jordan is at the center of the Syrian refugee crisis and has voiced disappointment in the past about the UN Security Council’s failure to refer the situation in Syria to the ICC, says Stephanie Johanssen, EU and UN Director for the Global Justice Center. “With the Syrian war now entering its 6th year, Jordan knows first-hand the dangers of shielding a war criminal for the sake of political interests. These are precisely the actions that undermine the efficiency of the ICC, we cannot have countries proclaim support for international justice on the one hand, and then collaborate or mingle with the ICC’s most wanted.”
The failure to arrest and prosecute war criminals undermines the interests of justice and signals to others that they can commit these crimes with impunity. “Allowing war criminal to thrive while depriving their victims of justice undermines the very system these States themselves created to hold perpetrators accountable,” says Radhakrishnan. “Victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed around the world require justice—whether committed by Bashir, Assad, ISIS or the Burmese military. Justice cannot come second to political convenience.”
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