For the first time ever, attendees at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) this week may include a sitting head of state who is the subject of an International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant for genocide and crimes against humanity. Read More »
On Monday, the U.S. State Department confirmed reports that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, a war criminal indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity, had applied for a U.S. visa with the intent of attending the U.N. General Assembly Meeting in New York next week. Read More »
While the recent 50th anniversary commemoration of the "March on Washington" to demand rights for African Americans focused attention on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s unfinished domestic agenda in the United States, Dr. King was also strongly committed to a global human rights movement, particularly related to Africa. Read More »
This dispatch is based on research and interviews conducted by the author in Kampala, Uganda between September 11–18, 2013 at the site of Kampala Peace Talks between the Government of Congo and the M23. It is part of an ongoing Enough Project series on issues related to the peace process in Congo and the Great Lakes region.
The U.S. was put in a difficult diplomatic position this week as ICC indictee and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir announced his intent to attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York. An agreement between the U.S. and the UN legally requires the U.S. to issue Bashir a visa and facilitate his travel. Although it might seem like restrictive international laws have created this problem, some activists see law as also offering the solution. Read More »
WASHINGTON --- 25 Sudan experts, human rights groups, and leading voices on genocide prevention, including George Clooney, Don Cheadle, and Omer Ismail and John Prendergast of the Enough Project released a letter addressed to President Obama today, calling on the U.S. government to do everything possible to dissuade President Bashir from travelling to New York City for next week's U.N. meetings.
Don Cheadle, Co-Founder of Not on Our Watch, said:
"Each time that President Bashir is allowed to travel freely, without the threat of arrest, is another blow to accountability and justice for his victims. The legal issues involved in Bashir's travel to the U.N. are complicated, but we hope that the U.S. and other countries do everything in their power to prevent this trip."
Citing the 2007 Genocide Accountability Act, which allows for the prosecution of genocidaires who are in the United States, even if their crimes were committed abroad, the letter urges the administration to announce that it will open a criminal prosecution once Bashir lands. While the letter acknowledges that the U.S. is generally obliged to facilitate travel for all visiting dignitaries, since it plays host to the United Nations, it goes on to outline a number of other diplomatic steps that the administration could be taking to dissuade President Bashir from persisting with his travel plans.
John Prendergast, Co-Founder of the Enough Project, said:
"If Bashir ends up coming to the U.S. despite the administration's best efforts to convince him otherwise, all legal channels should be explored for prosecuting him under existing authority. His visit also highlights the deadly conflicts continuing to rage in Darfur, the Nuba Mountains, and Blue Nile regions of Sudan. President Obama should lead efforts at the U.N. General Assembly meetings to construct a credible and comprehensive peace process."
It is troubling that Sudan's president continues to travel around the world with impunity, notwithstanding a pending warrant for his arrest at the Hague. Now, he might even come to New York just as Sudan is facing some of the worst violence the region has seen in years. Human rights lawyers are investigating civil litigation to hold the Sudanese president accountable for his crimes and hope to serve him once he steps on U.S. soil. Meanwhile, activists are mobilizing on Capitol Hill, planning protests in New York City and warning Manhattan hotels against offering him accommodation.
The letter notes that if President Bashir attends next week's opening session at the U.N., it will be the first time that anyone who is wanted for genocide by the International Criminal Court has entered the country. It will also be President Bashir's first trip to the United States since 2006. Since then, at least 300,000 people have died in Sudan while millions more have been displaced from their homes.
# The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas affected by the Lord's Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more about Enough, go to www.enoughproject.org.
25 Sudan experts, human rights groups, and leading voices on genocide prevention, including George Clooney, Don Cheadle, John Prendergast and Omer Ismail, released an open letter addressed to President Obama, calling on the U.S. government to do everything possible to dissuade President Bashir from travelling to New York City for UN meetings.