KAMPALA: Uganda’s decision to not invite Sudan’s indicted leader Omar El-Beshir to a summit in Kampala proves the International Criminal Court is gaining strength in Africa, Human Rights Watch said Sunday.
"This is a welcome statement from the president of Uganda," Richard Dicker, international justice director at the New York-based group, told AFP.
"The trend is African state-parties standing up for accountability and ending impunity."
On Saturday Uganda’s presidency issued a statement saying the Sudanese leader was not invited to the African Union summit in July, a reversal of Uganda’s previous conduct regarding Beshir.
Dicker argued that Beshir’s insistence at an AU summit last year that he could travel anywhere he wanted on the continent has proved to be empty bluster.
"This certainly contradicts the triumphalist rhetoric that Beshir was conveying (at the summit) in Sirte (Libya)," Dicker said.
"I would say that Omar El-Beshir’s travel agent is a very underemployed individual […] Without question, the trend is his world getting smaller."
Dicker further argued that the announcement from Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni shows the ICC’s ongoing review conference is yielding results.
"It is part of the upshot of this conference occurring in Africa," he said.
William Pace, who heads the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, an umbrella organization of civil society justice groups, said he expects the court’s force to continue to strengthen.
"This is an example of how the Rome Statute continues to surround impunity for the worst crimes. Year by year, country by country, it shows the statute is working," he said.