Kadaga Defends Sudan President Bashir Visit to Uganda at ICC Meet

Sam Ibanda Mugabi

The speaker of Parliament Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga has defended the continued visitation of the Sudan President Omar Al- Bashir to Uganda in spite of his warrant of arrest by the International Criminal Court of Justice.

Speaking at the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute in Netherlands Wednesday evening, Kadaga said Uganda cannot arrest President Bashir because he plays an important part in the regional stability of the region.

Khartoum and Kampala, previously at diplomatic crossroads, are now working to facilitate the recent shaky peace deal between former Vice President Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir led forces.

Kadaga said Uganda stands for a position where “justice is not sacrificed at the altar of peace, and peace is not sacrificed at the altar of justice”.

The International criminal court in 2009 and 2010 issued double warrant of arrest for Sudan’s President Omar Al- Bashir on two accounts of crimes against humanity and genocide leading to the death of 300,000 people in Sudan’s Darfur region. The copies of the warrants were served to all ICC member states warning them against hosting him.

Although Uganda is a member of ICC, the country has hosted President Bashir several times despite condemnation from the international body.

Kadaga, however, assured ICC members that Uganda intends to remain a member of the body.

“I want to begin by reassuring the President [of the ICC] that Uganda will not withdraw from the Rome Statute but we will continue working together,” said Kadaga.

“I also want to reassure you that because of that collaboration, we are the first country to issue a reference for arbitration to the ICC and we have continued to cooperate to date,” she added.

Kadaga lost no opportunity to voice government discomfort with the court.

“Of course, we are part of the African Union and there have sometimes been difficult situations between the ICC and the African Union. There are areas of reservation,” said Kadaga, in relation to a February 2017 African Union decision to withdraw from the ICC.

Uganda voted in favour of the withdrawal after a divisive motion sponsored by Kenya was debated by the Heads of State Summit in Addis Ababa.

The Court has suffered heavy criticism of only targeting African leaders, a claim the court persistently denies. Its appointment of Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda was seen as an attempt to give it an African face.

In a related development, the Speaker has urged the Court to consider the citizenship of children born during conflicts which cut across regions.

Kadaga said that women abducted by rebels and moved to areas away from their home have children with no identity.

“There is a fundamental problem; for instance a rebel grabs a woman in Congo, takes her to the Central African Republic, has a child there. Neither of the parents is a citizen of CAR; there are no birth certificates then they move to a third country. Where does that child belong?” Kadaga wondered.

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