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In Spite of Arrest Warrant, Bashir Takes a Trip

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In Spite of Arrest Warrant, Bashir Takes a Trip

Posted by Laura Heaton on March 23, 2009

In Spite of Arrest Warrant, Bashir Takes a Trip

Today, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir traveled to Eritrea, the tiny country east of Sudan, in defiance of the International Criminal Court’s warrant for his arrest. Under the ICC Charter, member states are compelled to arrest a person wanted by the international court if he sets foot on their territory. However, Eritrea is not a party to the ICC and came out early in support of Bashir.

The AP reported that local television showed Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki greeting Bashir at the airport in Asmara with a fanfare of dancers and drummers. Eritrean Information Minister Ali Abdu said Bashir was invited to the Eritrean capital to discuss regional security. On the topic of the arrest warrant, Ali said he thought the ICC’s move was “unjustifiable and illegal and illogical and futile.” He said that the Eritrean government sees it as “an extension and symptom of the ongoing world hegemony and domination by a few powers in this world.”

The ICC issued an arrest warrant for the Sudanese leader on March 4 and charged him with rape, murder, and other war crimes.

Late last week, ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo forcefully called for Bashir’s arrest, saying that even entering international airspace would be an opportunity for him to be taken into custody. Ocampo said that Bashir’s decision to expel aid agencies operating in Darfur was confirmation that he’s intent on “exterminating” his people.

Bashir plans to attend the Arab League summit in Doha at the end of the month, but Sudan’s highest clerics have called for him to cancel the trip because, “Enemies of the nation are creeping around.”