/ 30 June 2011

UN rights chief upset by China’s failure to arrest al-Bashir

Un Rights Chief Upset By China's Failure To Arrest Al Bashir

The United Nations rights chief expressed disappointment on Thursday that China failed to arrest Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted on genocide charges, during his visit to Beijing.

“There is a duty and responsibility of every government, including China, to assist the court in bringing to justice” individuals who are sought for alleged violations, said Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“It is disappointing when states do not deliver on this responsibility,” she said.

“In this case there was an opportunity to ensure that Mr al-Bashir is able to stand trial,” added Pillay.

Red-carpet welcome
Al-Bashir arrived in Beijing on Wednesday and was given a red-carpet welcome by Chinese President Hu Jintao, to the anger of Washington and rights groups. His trip to China was due to end on Thursday.

The Sudanese president is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity that occurred in the Darfur region, where about 300 000 people have died since 2003.

ICC statutes dictate that any member country should arrest al-Bashir if he visits. China is not a party to those statutes, nor is the United States.

“We reserve our opinion on the ICC’s prosecution against President al-Bashir,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said ahead of the Sudanese president’s visit.

Pillay noted that if al-Bashir were arrested, he would be brought to stand trial, “it’s not like we’re calling for an execution of someone”.

“I do feel disappointed when governments do not deliver on something that is intrinsic to their national systems — to bring someone to trial,” she added. — AFP