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HRW criticizes inaction against al-Bashir

July 4, 2009 at 3:46 PM

SIRTE, Libya, July 4 (UPI) -- African states should honor an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, a Human Rights Watch official says.

Human Rights Watch representative Reed Brody said those African states serving as signatories to the international body are mandated to arrest al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, AllAfrica.com reported Friday.

"What we see here is very heavy-handed attempt by Libya to force states who are members of ICC to abandon their legal obligation and to give a free pass to Omar al-Bashir to traipse around the continent without worry," Brody said.

"But the fact is that states have legal obligation, they cannot erase by a political resolution here."

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has also called on African Union members to arrest al-Bashir should the Sudanese leader arrive in their countries.

"The African Union should not abandon its promise to fight impunity," Annan said. "Unless indicted war criminals are held to account, regardless of their rank, others tempted to emulate them will not be deterred, and African people will suffer."

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