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UN: ‘Procedures followed’ for Al Bashir – Guterres meeting at Addis summit

February 1 - 2018 NEW YORK
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres (UN Photo)
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres (UN Photo)

The office of the Secretary-General has fielded critical questions regarding a confirmed meeting between UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Sudan’s President Omar Al Bashir who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for genocide and war crimes.

The meeting occurred in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on the periphery of this week’s African Union summit. At the daily press briefing in New York yesterday, UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters that it occurred out of “operational necessity”, and that “the rules of procedures were followed” in terms of informing the ICC prosecution of such a meeting.

According to a report by The Associated Press in the New York Times this week, Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour told local media that Guterres praised the efforts by Sudan's government to achieve peace in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan during Sunday's meeting in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Press breifing by UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq (with text commentary by Inner City Press)

Haq said that “it's typical for member states to have their own characterizations of meetings”.

Fielding questions from Inner City Press, Haq said that the rules on contact between UN officials and persons who are the subject of arrest warrants or summonses to appear issued by the ICC were adhered to.

He said occasional meetings about issues such as the peacekeeping forces in Darfur (Unamid) and Abyei (Unisfa) are operational necessities from time to time. “That doesn’t obviate the need, of course, for respect of the International Criminal Court.”

Indicted

In 2009 and 2010 the ICC in The Hague issued two arrest warrants against Al Bashir. He is accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed in Darfur.

In December 2017, while briefing the UN Security Council at a meeting on the situation in Darfur, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda voiced frustration at the lack of cooperation with the ICC by the international community in apprehending Al Bashir.

“I call on this Council to prioritise action on the outstanding warrants of arrest issued by the Court,” Fatou Bensouda told the UN Security Council in New York.

Bensouda: “In the Darfur situation, effecting warrants of arrest remains a difficult challenge and a crucial area where greater collaboration is sorely needed. The entire judicial machinery of the Court can be frustrated and held in abeyance unless persons sought by the ICC appear before it.

“I regret to note that over the years my reports have highlighted the consistent failure of the Council to act when a number of States Parties to the Rome Statute have welcomed Mr Omar Al Bashir as an ICC suspect to their territories. These States Parties have failed to comply with the Court's requests for his arrest and surrender, despite a clear treaty obligation to do so. In most cases, a lack of legal clarity has been claimed to justify the failure to arrest and surrender Mr Al Bashir,” Bensouda said.


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