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Uganda to arrest al-Bashir under ICC warrant if he enters country

[JURIST] Ugandan officials announced Monday that they plan to arrest Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] on war crimes charges if he enters the country, pursuant to an International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] warrant [JURIST news archive]. The announcement followed a meeting [AP report] between Ugandan minister for international affairs Henry Oryem Okello and ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo. The decision reflects a recommendation made by an African Union [official website] panel last week that AU countries cooperate with the warrant, contrary to a prior vote by the full AU to oppose the warrant [JURIST reports]. Although AU leaders claim that the warrant poses a threat [JURIST report] to Sudan's peace process, Ocampo maintains that Bashir's arrest is a legal obligation for the 30 AU countries that are parties to the Rome Statute [text].

Al-Bashir is accused of leading the systematic harassment and murder of members of the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa ethnic groups under the pretext of counter-insurgency since 2003. Prosecutors at the ICC announced last month that they would pursue genocide charges against Bashir, appealing the ICC's March decision to charge al-Bashir [JURIST reports] with war crimes and crimes against humanity but not genocide. Ocampo had long sought the warrant and, in July 2008, filed preliminary charges stemming from crimes allegedly committed in the Darfur region in violation of Articles 6, 7 and 9 of the Rome Statute.

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