A senior House Republican wants the Obama administration to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is accused of war crimes, if he arrives in the U.S. to attend a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly this week.
Gen. al-Bashir has applied for a U.S. visa to travel to New York to attend the annual U.N. session, which starts Tuesday. He said at a press conference Sunday in Khartoum that he has made plans to travel to New York, but U.S. and Sudanese officials declined to say whether he had been granted a U.S. visa.
Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Karti already has arrived at the U.N. and is expected to be joined by Interior Minister Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamed.
“I understand that there are host-country obligations as it relates to the United Nations,” Mr. Wolf said in a letter to President Obama. “Nevertheless, don’t we have a higher moral obligation not to allow an internationally indicted war criminal to step foot on U.S. soil unless it is solely for the purpose of arresting him? Bashir has the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocents on his hand — Christian, Muslim and Animist alike.”
“From this point forward, the message to Bashir should be: You are an international pariah; not a legitimate head of state. We are not required to embolden evil. Should you choose to come to New York, you will be met by U.S. law enforcement officials and a plane prepared to transfer you to The Hague,” Mr. Wolf added.
Mr. Wolf, a longtime critic of Gen. al-Bashir, last year offered an amendment to the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill that would have cut non-humanitarian foreign aid to any nation that allows Gen. al-Bashir into its country without arresting him.
“You have before you a clear choice,” he told Mr. Obama. “Will you turn a blind eye to slaughter and extend diplomatic courtesy to such a man? Or will you seize the opportunity presented by Bashir’s brazenness and facilitate his transfer, as is legally permissible, to The Hague, such that he is finally made to account for his crimes?”
A Sudanese official said the U.S. must approve Gen. al-Bashir’s visa application.
“It is ironic that this issue has been raised as a pretext to criticize the application of President Bashir for an entry visa, when the United States itself is not a member of the ICC, openly objects to it, has not ratified the ICC treaty, and has bilateral agreements with most ICC signatory countries forbidding extradition of U.S. officials wanted by the International Criminal Court,” said Seifeldin Omer Yasin, a spokesman for the Sudanese Embassy in Washington.
“Those who oppose the legally unquestionable right of president Bashir to attend and speak at the United Nations General Assembly are opposing the rule of law,” he said.