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By Damba Rogers.
Rights activists in Uganda under their umbrella body HURINET are cautioning Uganda of pending global sanctions if the country fails to arrest the Sudanese president, Omar Al Bashir who is on his nation’s visit to Uganda this week.
Uganda being a signatory to the ROME statute of the international criminal court (ICC) is mandated to effect the arrest of Bashir upon arrival in the country, this being the second time he is coming to Uganda following the issuance of the arrest warrant the world is having its eyes set on Uganda who are hosting Bashir from 13th to 15th this month.
According to Muhammed Ndifuuna the executive director, HURINET-Uganda, govt should honor the Rome statute and arrest Bashir upon arrival as a sign of respect to international laws and enforce the ICC laws.
He further emphasizes Uganda is a state party to the Rome statute of ICC which was signed in march 1999 and ratified in June 2002 and has further domesticated the statute through the ICC Act of 2010 which set obligations for close cooperation with the court regarding the arrest and surrender of persons for whom arrest warrants have been issued.
Sarah Kasande Kihika the executive director, International center for transitional justice warns that sanctions slapped against Uganda by the UN security council and the ICC can cause great impact to the country’s governance and economic space.
In May 2016, Omar Bashir travelled to Uganda to attend the inauguration ceremony of president Yoweri Museveni. Despite the clear obligations to cooperate with the court, Uganda did not arrest Bashir and surrender him to the ICC to face trial.
Consequently, the pretrial chamber of the ICC found Uganda to have failed to comply with its duty to arrest and surrender Omar Al Bashir to court in accordance with article 89(1) of the Rome statute and reffered Uganda to the assembly of state parties and the UN security council.
Article 27 of the Rome statute disregards the official capacity of heads of state and states that immunities of heads of states are of no consequence to the court’s process.
Now the rights activists who also filed a case in 2016 in court calling for government to arrest and surrender Bashir to ICC are asking government to fulfill its obligations under the international and domestic laws by arresting and surrendering president Omar Al Bashir should he be found on Uganda territory and also urge president museveni and all government officials to support the ICC in its endeavors to fight impunity and achieve global justice.