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Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir returns home after fleeing South Africa, pre-empting a court ruling over an international warrant for his arrest.

Omar al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.

The Pretoria High Court was due to decide whether Omar al-Bashir should be handed over to the ICC which charged him with the crimes.

Omar al-Bashir was in Johannesburg for an African Union (AU) summit.

A news conference will be held in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, upon his arrival.

Photo AFP

Photo AFP

On June 14, a judge barred Omar al-Bashir from leaving until the arrest application had been considered.

Omar al-Bashir is accused of committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide during the Darfur conflict.

The UN says that about 300,000 people in Sudan have died and more than two million have fled their homes since fighting began in 2003.

Government forces and allied Arab militias are accused of targeting black African civilians in the fight against the rebels.

At the hearing at the Pretoria High Court, the lawyer representing the South African government says Omar al-Bashir’s name was not on the list of passengers who took off earlier.

On June 15, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the ICC’s warrant for the arrest of Omar al-Bashir must be implemented by countries who have signed up to the court’s statutes.

As a member of the ICC, South Africa is obliged to arrest anyone charged by the court. Before the summit, the ICC issued a press statement urging the South African government “to spare no effort in ensuring the execution of the arrest warrant”.


Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over war crimes charges, left Khartoum on June 13 to travel to South Africa for an African (AU) summit, state news agency SUNA said.

The ICC has called on South Africa to arrest Omar al-Bashir.

Omar al-Bashir is wanted for war crimes over the conflict in Darfur.

An ICC statement said South Africa should “spare no effort” in detaining him.

But instead he was welcomed by South African officials on his arrival in Johannesburg, SABC tweeted.

Since the Sudanese president was indicted by the ICC in 2009 over alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Darfur conflict, his overseas travel has been severely restricted.

Omar al-Bashir was accompanied by the foreign minister and other top Sudanese officials, SUNA reported.Omar al Bashir travels to South Africa

There are tensions between the ICC and the AU, with some on the continent accusing the court of unfairly targeting Africans.

The AU has previously urged the ICC to stop proceedings against sitting leaders.

The warrants against Omar al-Bashir, who denies the allegations, have severely restricted his overseas travel.

He has, however, visited friendly states in Africa and the Middle East.

The ICC has no police force and relies on member states to carry out arrests.

As a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the ICC, South Africa is obliged to arrest Omar al-Bashir if he sets foot in the country, but correspondents say this is unlikely to happen.

The AU has previously refused to co-operate with the ICC, accusing it of bias against African leaders.

Sidiki Kaba, president of the assembly of states to the ICC, expressed “deep concern about the negative consequences for the court” if South Africa refused to comply with its obligations to carry out the arrest.

Human rights organizations and South Africa’s main opposition party have also called for Omar al-Bashir’s arrest.

Darfur has been in conflict since 2003, when rebels took up arms against the government. The UN says more than 300,000 people have died, mostly from disease.

The ICC has ended an investigation into war crimes in the region, but the warrants against Omar al-Bashir remain outstanding. The court accuses him of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.

Israel has frozen the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinians following their bid to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), Israeli officials say.

They said $127 million collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority last month would be held back.

The Palestinians submitted documents to join the ICC on January 2 in a move opposed by both Israel and the US.

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat condemned the Israeli measure, calling it a “new war crime”.

“Israel is once again responding to our legal steps with further illegal collective punishments,” Saeb Erekat said.

Israel collects taxes on behalf of the Palestinians, and transfers about $100 million per month, accounting for two-thirds of the authority’s budget.

It is not the first time Israel has halted the monthly transfers. It imposed a similar sanction in April 2014 after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas applied to join a series of international treaties and conventions.

Joining the ICC could see Palestinians pursue Israel on war-crime charges.

An unnamed Israeli official who announced the new freeze said Israel would defend itself against any Palestinian claims in the “international arena”.

He told Haaretz newspaper that “when it comes to war crimes, we have quite a bit of ammunition”.

Earlier this week Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said: “It is the Palestinian Authority – which is in a unity government with Hamas, an avowed terrorist organization that, like ISIS [Islamic State], perpetrates war crimes – that needs to be concerned about the [ICC].”

On December 31, Mahmoud Abbas signed the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty.

Under the terms of the statute, it will take about 60 days for the Palestinians to join the ICC after they file the documents.

Neither Israel nor the US is a member of the ICC.

The Palestinians’ chances of joining were improved in 2012 after the UN General Assembly voted to upgrade their status to that of a “non-member observer state”.

ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has previously said the upgrade means Palestine now qualifies to join the Rome Statute.

Based in The Hague, the ICC can prosecute individuals accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed since July 1, 2002, when the Rome Statute came into force.

North Korea will be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face charges of crimes against humanity.

The UN General Assembly voted the resolution with 116 to 20, with more than 50 abstentions.

The UN Security Council is expected to discuss the resolution on December 22, but it is likely to face stiff opposition from China and Russia.

North Korea said the resolution was “a product of political plot and confrontation”.

A UN report released in February revealed ordinary North Koreans faced “unspeakable atrocities”.

The report detailed wide-ranging abuses in North Korea after a panel heard evidence of torture, political repression and other abuses.North Korea ICC charges

It added that those accused of political crimes were “disappeared” to prison camps, where they were subject to “deliberate starvation, forced labor, executions, torture, rape and the denial of reproductive rights enforced through punishment, forced abortion and infanticide”.

Most of the evidence came from North Korean defectors who had fled the country.

North Korea refused to co-operate with the report and condemned its findings.

The report led to a vote in the UN’s human rights committee last month, which voted in favor of referring North Korea to the ICC.

China, North Korea’s main international ally, is expected to veto any Security Council resolution when the matter is discussed next week.

On December 18, the General Assembly also passed resolutions condemning the human rights records of Syria and Iran, but did not go as far as recommending a referral to the ICC.

Charges of crimes against humanity against Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta have been withdrawn by prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

Uhuru Kenyatta had been indicted in connection with post-election ethnic violence in 2007-2008, in which 1,200 people died.

The president, who had denied the charges, said he felt “vindicated”.

The prosecutor’s office said the Kenyan government had refused to hand over evidence vital to the case.

Uhuru Kenyatta said he was “excited” and “relieved” at the dropping of charges.

“My conscience is absolutely clear,” he said, adding that his case had been “rushed there without proper investigation”.

Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed said her government would try to have two other similar cases thrown out including one involving Deputy President William Ruto.

“As they say, one case down, two more to go,” Uhuru Kenyatta said on Twitter.

Photo AP

Photo AP

On December 3, the ICC had given prosecutors a week to decide whether to pursue their case against Uhuru Kenyatta or withdraw charges.

Further delays in the case would be “contrary to the interests of justice”, it had said.

On December 5, prosecutors said the evidence had “not improved to such an extent that Uhuru Kenyatta’s alleged criminal responsibility can be proven beyond reasonable doubt”.

Many observers had seen the case against Uhuru Kenyatta as the biggest test in the court’s history.

He was the first head of state to appear before the court, after he was charged in 2012.

The prosecution repeatedly asked for more time to build its case, saying witnesses had been bribed and intimidated, and the Kenyan government had refused to hand over documents vital to the case.

Human Rights Watch had accused the Kenyan government of acting as a roadblock and “impairing the search for truth”.

Uhuru Kenyatta denied inciting ethnic violence following the disputed 2007 elections in order to secure victory for then-President Mwai Kibaki.

He has repeatedly accused the ICC of pursuing a political prosecution.

On December 5, Uhuru Kenyatta again criticized the legal process, saying: “The prosecutor opted to selectively pursue cases in a blatantly biased manner that served vested interests and undermined justice.

“As a result, the court has had to pay a steep reputational price, which it will continue to face unless a serious and systemic rethinking of the international justice framework is undertaken.”

Uhuru Kenyatta won Kenya’s presidential elections in 2013, with the backing of Mwai Kibaki.

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The UN has called for the Security Council to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court (ICC) over its human rights record.

The human rights committee passed a motion seeking a probe into alleged crimes against humanity committed by the Pyongyang regime.

The motion still needs to be voted on by the General Assembly itself.

A UN report released in February revealed ordinary North Koreans faced “unspeakable atrocities”.

The UN Commission of Inquiry detailed wide-ranging abuses in North Korea after hearing evidence of torture, political repression and other crimes.

It led to Tuesday’s non-binding vote, which was passed with 111 countries in favor and 19 against, with 55 abstentions.

China and Russia, which hold veto power on the Security Council, voted against the motion.

The resolution also condemned North Korea for its poor human rights record, and urged the Security Council to consider targeted sanctions against those responsible for the crimes.

Michael Kirby, who chaired the report, described the move as “an important step in the defense of human rights”.

“One of the only ways in which the International Criminal Court can secure jurisdiction is by referral by the Security Council. That is the step that has been put in train by the big vote in New York,” he said.

The General Assembly is to vote on the motion in coming weeks.

Diplomats say, however, that long-time ally China would probably use its veto to block the Security Council from referring the case to the ICC.

The UN report said North Korea’s human rights situation “exceeds all others in duration, intensity and horror”.

It said those accused of political crimes were “disappeared” to prison camps, where they were subject to “deliberate starvation, forced labor, executions, torture, rape and the denial of reproductive rights enforced through punishment, forced abortion and infanticide”.

The report, based on interviews with North Korean defectors, estimated that “hundreds of thousands of political prisoners have perished in these camps over the past five decades”.

It included an account of a woman forced to drown her own baby, children imprisoned from birth and starved, and families tortured for watching a foreign soap opera.

North Korea refused to co-operate with the UN report and rejected its conclusions.

Speaking ahead of the vote, a North Korean foreign ministry official warned the committee of the possibility of further nuclear tests.

Penalizing North Korea over human rights “is compelling us not to refrain any further from conducting nuclear tests”, Choe Myong-nam said.

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Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has confirmed during a speech in front of the parliament that he will be appearing at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on October 8.

Uhuru Kenyatta told parliament that his deputy, William Ruto, would be in charge during his absence.

The president faces charges of organizing ethnic massacres that killed 1,200 people after the 2007 elections – something he denies.

The October 8 hearing is due to set a date for his trial to begin.

The ICC had summoned Uhuru Kenyatta to appear to explain allegations that evidence against him had been withheld.

In September, the court postponed the trial after prosecutors said the Kenyan government had failed to deliver key documents. Witnesses for the prosecution have withdrawn from the case.

Dozens of Kenyan lawmakers are expected to travel to The Hague to back Uhuru Kenyatta at the status hearing.

Uhuru Kenyatta said he would be going to The Hague in a personal capacity – not as president – so as not to compromise the sovereignty of Kenya’s 40 million people.

“To protect the sovereignty of the Kenyan republic, I now take the extraordinary and unprecedented step of evoking article 1473 of the constitution and I will shortly issue the legal notice necessary to appoint honourable William Ruto, the deputy president, as acting president while I attend the status conference at The Hague in the Netherlands,” he said.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has confirmed during a speech in front of the parliament that he will be appearing at the ICC in The Hague on October 8

President Uhuru Kenyatta has confirmed during a speech in front of the parliament that he will be appearing at the ICC in The Hague on October 8

Uhuru Kenyatta again stressed his innocence: “I wish to reiterate here for all that my conscience is clear, has been clear and will remain forever clear that I am innocent of all the accusations that have been leveled against me.

“After all this, the prosecutor of the ICC has since last December and as recently as last month, admitted to the judges that the available evidence is insufficient to prove alleged criminal responsibility beyond reasonable doubt.”

There had been growing doubts as to whether Uhuru Kenyatta would become the first sitting president to attend the court. He had already been to the ICC before becoming president in 2013.

Uhuru Kenyatta was a close ally of President Mwai Kibaki, who was declared the winner of the 2007 election. Mwai Kibaki’s rival, Raila Odinga, claimed the poll was marred by fraud.

The dispute took on an ethnic dimension, pitting members of the Kikuyu ethnic group of Uhuru Kenyatta and Mwai Kibaki against other communities. Uhuru Kenyatta is accused of organising an ethnic Kikuyu gang, the Mungiki sect, to attack rival groups.

Uhuru Kenyatta faces five charges relating to the ethnic massacres – the worst violence in Kenya since independence in 1963. Tens of thousands of people were displaced and Kenya’s reputation for stability was tarnished.

Vice-President WSilliam Ruto also faces charges at The Hague, but he was on Raila Odinga’s side during the violence. He also denies the charges.

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Kenyan parliament has approved a motion to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC) following an emergency debate.

A bill to this effect is expected to be introduced in the next 30 days, after opposition MPs boycotted the vote.

The ICC has charged President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto with crimes against humanity, which they both deny. William Ruto’s trial is due to start in The Hague next week.

The ICC said the cases would continue even if Kenya pulled out.

The charges against both Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto stem from violence that broke out after disputed elections in 2007, in which more than 1,000 people were killed and 600,000 forced from their homes.

Uhuru Kenyatta is to go on trial in November.

They were on opposite sides during the 2007 election but formed an alliance for elections in March this year, and analysts say the ICC prosecutions bolstered their campaign as they portrayed it as foreign interference in Kenya’s domestic affairs.

Kenyan parliament has approved a motion to leave the ICC following an emergency debate

Kenyan parliament has approved a motion to leave the ICC following an emergency debate

Eeven though the vote does not halt the cases, it sends a powerful signal of defiance to The Hague – a sentiment that is becoming increasingly popular, in Kenya and across much of Africa.

No other country has withdrawn from the ICC.

Kenya’s parliament is dominated by the Jubilee coalition formed by Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto.

The motion, tabled by majority leader Adan Duale, said the pair had been “lawfully elected” and the government should take steps to “immediately” withdraw from the Rome Statute, which established the ICC.

It also says Kenya will “suspend any links, cooperation and assistance” to the ICC.

Adan Duale noted that the US had refused to sign the Rome Statute to protect its citizens and soldiers from potential politically motivated prosecutions.

“Let us protect our citizens. Let us defend the sovereignty of the nation of Kenya,” Adan Duale is quoted as saying.

MPs from the opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD), led by former PM Raila Odinga, walked out of the debate, calling the motion “capricious” and “ill-considered”.

Kenya’s withdrawal would not bring “honor to the nation and dignity to our leaders”, CORD said in a statement.

“Kenya cannot exist outside the realm of international law,” it said.

In May, the African Union accused the ICC of “hunting” Africans because of their race.

The ICC strongly denies this, saying it is fighting for the rights of the African victims of atrocities.

The court was set up in 2002 to deal with genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

The ICC has been ratified by 122 countries, including 34 in Africa.

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