KHARTOUM – President Omar al-Bashir will attend an Arab League summit in Amman this week, Sudan’s foreign minister said Sunday, despite a top rights group urging Jordan to deny him entry.
Bashir is wanted by The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged genocide and war crimes related to the conflict in war-torn Darfur.
“President Omar al-Bashir will participate in the Arab summit in spite of his hectic schedule,” Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour told the official SUNA news agency.
Ghandour said Bashir was attending the Arab League’s annual summit as Jordan’s King Abdullah II insisted that he come.
“President Bashir has never fled from ICC, and he will continue executing his responsibilities,” Ghandour said.
New York-based Human Rights Watch has called on Jordan, an ICC member, to deny entry to Bashir or arrest him if he comes for the summit, which begins on Wednesday near the Dead Sea.
“Jordan would be defying its international obligations as an ICC member if it allows Bashir to visit without arresting him,” said Elise Keppler, associate international justice director at HRW in a statement.
“Welcoming an ICC fugitive would undermine the Jordanian government’s recent efforts to strengthen the country’s rule of law.”
The Hague-based court issued arrest warrants for Bashir in 2009 and 2010, but he has so far evaded arrest and steadfastly denies the charges related to conflict in Darfur.
The conflict in Darfur, a region the size of France, erupted in 2003 when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against Bashir’s Arab-dominated government in Khartoum, accusing it of marginalising the region economically and politically.
At least 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur and another 2.5 million displaced since the conflict erupted, the United Nations says.
In 2015, South Africa refused to arrest Bashir when he attended an African Union summit there, claiming he had immunity as the head of an AU member state.
The ICC will hold a public hearing on April 7 to probe whether South Africa — a signatory to the Rome Statute of the world war crimes court — failed in its duty in refusing to do so.