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The Jakarta Post 34
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Al-Bashir'€™s failure to fly to Indonesia reinforces his fugitive status: NGO

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Tue, April 21, 2015 | 04:30 pm

An activist has said the recent failed attempt of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to fly to Indonesia reinforces his status as a fugitive from international justice with limited travel options.

'€œThis is not the first time Al-Bashir has had trouble traveling, and his movement is rightly restricted,'€ said Elise Keppler, associate director of the International Justice Program at NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW), on Tuesday.

Keppler said the Sudanese president was subject to two International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrants that included charges of unlawful attacks on civilians, murder, acts of extermination and rape, among other abuses.

'€œSo far, President Al-Bashir has avoided arrest for alleged international crimes '€” including genocide '€” committed in Darfur. But his world has certainly gotten smaller,'€ she said.

On Monday, Al-Bashir planned to visit Indonesia to attend the 60th anniversary of the Asian-African Conference scheduled to take place from April 19 to 24 in Jakarta and Bandung.

A source in Sudan'€™s Cabinet told the news outlet Sudan Tribune that Al-Bashir'€™s plane was denied permission to fly through the airspace of some countries en route to Indonesia, although it is not known which ones, HRW said.

Al-Bashir has traveled to Asia only once '€” to China in 2011, amid criticism from the UN '€” since becoming subject to arrest. Malaysia in 2011 chose to cancel a visit, while South Africa and Botswana have made it clear that Al-Bashir risks arrest if he enters their territories.

Al-Bashir also canceled visits to conferences in Turkey and Kenya amid an outcry over his possible attendance. In 2012, an African Union summit in Malawi was relocated after Malawi'€™s president made it clear that Al-Bashir was not welcome. In 2013, Al-Bashir traveled to Nigeria for a conference, only to leave abruptly less than 24 hours later as local activists took legal action to compel his arrest.

Keppler said the Sudanese president seemed set on trying to rehabilitate his image with recent steps such as his certain re-election this month, and Sudan'€™s decision to join Saudi Arabia'€™s coalition to fight in Yemen.

'€œBut victims in Darfur deserve to see justice and governments should help see this done, including by restricting Al-Bashir'€™s travel. He belongs in one place only '€” facing charges in The Hague,'€ she said. (ebf)(++++)

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