Washington ‘disappointed’ no action taken against Bashir

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The US said Monday it was disappointed Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir was allowed to return home from a meeting in South Africa even though he faces an international arrest warrant.

State Department spokesman Jeffrey Rathke stopped short short of using stronger language. He did not explicitly say that the United States regretted South Africa’s failure to arrest Bashir, who faces charges of crimes against humanity.

Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court in the Hague for alleged war crimes and genocide in the Darfur region, returned home Monday from an African Union summit in South Africa.

He did so even though a court there had ordered him not to leave, as it mulled whether to arrest him.

The ICC had in fact asked South Africa to arrest him, and said it was disappointed it had not.

Rathke said the United States was disappointed that he was able to attend the summit and also that nothing happened to Bashir while he was there.

“We’re disappointed that he was able to attend because there is, you know, an international arrest warrant and then we’re also disappointed that no action was taken,” Rathke said.

There is precedent for Washington not reacting to the presence of Bashir at international events, like the May 29 inauguration of Nigeria’s new president. Secretary of State John Kerry was there.

The United States did not sign the charter that created the ICC but regularly supports its actions.