Agence France-Presse

Sudan President Bashir's trip to Nigeria sees outcry

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir addresses the fifth session of the National Assembly in Khartoum on April 9, 2012.



Rights organizations are criticizing Sudan President Omar al-Bashir's inclusion in a Nigeria health summit given his alleged role in the genocide in Darfur, according to BBC News.

The International Criminal Court (ICC), of which Nigeria is a member, put out an arrest warrant for Bashir in March on charges of genocide and other atrocities in Sudan's Darfur region. However, the ICC relies on national governments to make the arrest in the court's name because it has no police, said Human Rights Watch.

Many countries have refused to receive Bashir, but "Nigeria has the shameful distinction of being the first West African country to welcome ICC fugitive Sudanese president," Elise Keppler of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch said on Monday, according to All Africa.

The Sudanese leader was even given a full guard of honor when he arrived in Abuja for a health summit on HIV/AIDS organized by the African Union, said the BBC's Nigeria correspondent, Chris Ewokor.

Rights organizations want Bashir arrested, not given state honors. Bashir denies his involvement in the Darfur conflict that killed an estimated 200,000 people, according to Reuters.

Chino Obiagwu of the Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court said Nigeria is breaking international law by receiving Bashir, and rights activists there vowed to take the matter to court on Monday, reported AllAfrica.

"It sends a very wrong signal to other African countries that the International Criminal Court could be ignored, Obiagwu told the BBC's Focus on Africa program, saying the move suggests "African nations don't need to co-operate with the ICC and if that impression continues, then we're going to have serious problems dealing with impunity in Africa."

Nigerian presidential spokesman Reuben Abati deferred critics to the African Union's 2009 decision not to cooperate with ICC rulings, saying: "The Sudanese president came for an A[frican] U[nion] event and the AU has taken a position on the ICC arrest order, so Nigeria has not taken action different from the AU stand," reported Reuters.

The ICC has been accused of an over-emphasis on crimes in Africa, a charge the organization denies.

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Tagged: AfricaNigeriaSudan.