Heads of State at the African Union (AU) Summit in Kampala, Uganda, approved on Tuesday July 27th a much debated decision which once again condemns the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir, President of Sudan, and criticises the UN Security Council for not suspending the arrest warrant. The decision on the Progress Report calls on AU member States not to arrest and surrender Omar al-Bashir and rejects the ICC’s request to open a Liaison Office at the AU headquarters.

Statement by Alison Smith, Legal Counsel of No Peace Without Justice:

“No Peace Without Justice and the Transnational Nonviolent Radical Party condemn this move to call for non-cooperation with the International Criminal Court, in contradiction to Africa’s commitment to accountability, which is enshrined in the African Union’s Constitutive Act.

“We are afraid for the plight of the victims of human rights violations in Africa, if the African Union, as the body that is supposed to protect them, decides to stand on the side of impunity by supporting their oppressors.

“We urge Africa’s leaders, particularly the leaders of those States who are members of the International Criminal Court, to speak out strongly against this declaration that embraces impunity and that is squarely against their own interests, not to mention their international legal obligations enshrined in the Rome Statute. In this respect, we commend the Government of Botswana, whose public statement that it will ignore the AU decision and cooperate with the Court gives hope to victims across the continent, including particularly in Darfur.

“African States were a driving force and have played a crucial role in the process towards the establishment of the ICC and have been the most active in voluntarily referring cases to the Court. African States should now clearly demonstrate their commitment to stand on the side of victims of systematic human rights violations and not to rally behind their perpetrators. The people of Darfur, Sudan, Africa and the world deserve a chance at lasting peace, which in turn requires impartial and effective justice”.

For further information, contact Alison Smith on asmith@npwj.org or +32-2-548 39 12 or Nicola Giovannini on ngiovannini@npwj.org or +32-2-548-3915.