The African Union (AU) has refused to cooperate with a war crimes arrest warrant against Sudan President Omar al-Bashir. Amnesty International has described the AU’s decision not to acknowledge the warrant, which was issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in March, as an insult to victims of human rights violations in Darfur.
“This decision by the African Union member states shows a disdain for those in Darfur who suffered gross human rights violations and makes a mockery of the AU as an international body,” said Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty International’s Africa Director.
“By supporting a wanted person accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity, it undermines the credibility of states who are party to the Rome Statute and the AU as a whole.”
The AU’s resolution, adopted at the end of the 13th African Union Summit of Heads of States and Government Assembly held in Libya, would violate the obligations of African state parties to the Rome Statute to cooperate with the Court (article 86).
This includes the obligation to cooperate for the execution of arrest warrants. Africa played a leading – indeed, decisive – role in 1998 in the establishment of the ICC. Thirty African states have so far ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
African states strongly supported the creation of the ICC as a court of last resort to ensure that African victims of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes receive justice and reparations whenever states were unable and unwilling to investigate and prosecute such crimes.
Three African states, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, referred situations in their own countries to the ICC on such a basis. A fourth country, Côte d’Ivoire, has recognized the ICC’s jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute crimes in its territory or by its citizens abroad.