Will US Grant Visa to Sudan’s Indicted Leader to Attend UN Meeting?

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Sudan President Omar al-Bashir
Sudan President Omar al-Bashir

As host of the United Nations, the U.S. is supposed to let everyone come to the annual U.N. General Assembly, not just the people it likes. But this year, the proposition is being put to the test.

Sudan‘s president, Omar al-Bashir, was indicted three years ago by the International Criminal Court on genocide charges stemming from the mass killings in Sudan’s western Darfur region.

Bashir has also applied for a visa to the U.N. meetings next week, according to NPR.

“Such a trip would be deplorable, cynical and hugely inappropriate,” says Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

The State Department hasn’t yet made a decision on the visa, and officials say they are considering many factors, including the outstanding warrant against him.

“These are new legal waters,”  says Northwestern University’s David Scheffer, a former U.S. ambassador at large for war crimes issues, who helped negotiate the treaty that set up the ICC.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL REACTS

Amnesty International, in a statement issued Friday, said member states of UNGA must demand that Bashir surrender to ICC where he faces charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, the Sundan Tribune reports.

“Despite the ICC arrest warrants against the president, two other government officials and an alleged Janjaweed militia leader, they are all being protected by the Sudanese government which is refusing to cooperate with the Court,”  said Tawanda Hondora, deputy director of law and policy at Amnesty International.

Sudan’s decision to send a person accused of orchestrating these most serious crimes to attend the U.N. General Assembly, he added, is a grave insult to the thousands of people unlawfully killed, millions displaced and countless women and children raped in Darfur over the last decade.

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