The Egyptian government welcomed Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir for a visit on October 18-19, despite outstanding warrants for his arrest on charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Bashir continues to oversee atrocities taking place in Darfur and in other parts of Sudan. Yet this is the eleventh visit to another country that Bashir has made this year alone. As the U.S. Special Envoy Donald Booth said in his recent major address on Sudan and South Sudan, in Darfur “the continuing environment of impunity contributes to sustained cycles of violence.”
This latest visit to Egypt is particularly worrisome as Egypt and its president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi are considered allies and Egypt is one of the largest recipients of foreign assistance from the United States. This visit, coupled with Sisi’s visit to Sudan earlier this year, shows a blatant pattern of impunity between the two countries. Yet there has been no public admonishment or call for Bashir’s arrest made by the United States to the Egyptian government.
Accountability is a critical component in creating lasting peace in Africa and throughout the world. The international community has not only failed to impose consequences for Bashir’s atrocities, but has allowed the government of Sudan to continue its crimes in Darfur and throughout Sudan with impunity. Darfur is now suffering the worst attacks against its people in a decade — 400,000 innocent civilians have fled their homes this year. And more than 2,000 bombs have been dropped in the border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Even though Egypt is not a member of the International Criminal Court, non-member states are still encouraged to bring international fugitives to justice. The situation in Darfur was referred to the Court by the UN Security Council and the UN Security Council Resolution 1593 (2005) urges all members of the United Nations to fully cooperate with the court. As a member of the United Nations, Egypt is obligated to act and bring Bashir to justice.
Countries like Egypt that choose not to cooperate with the ICC arrest warrants are cultivating impunity and facilitating continued abuses across the globe. If stopping genocide matters to the United States, our country must at least be willing to ask our allies to hold those who commit genocide accountable.