The Sudanese President, wanted for alleged war crimes, left China Friday after a three-day official visit. Omar al-Bashir was earlier given a red-carpet welcome by the Chinese President Hu Jintao, whom he called his “friend and brother”.
al-Bashir carries an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and three counts of genocide in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region.
Judges of the world’s permanent war crimes tribunal had in 2009 issued the warrant over al-Bashir’s role in the Darfur conflict which the UN says has left up to 300,000 people dead and forced millions to flee their homes.
While the Sudanese President was still on Chinese soil, the UN’s top human rights official criticised China for failing to arrest him.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told reporters in Geneva Thursday she was “disappointed” that China welcomed Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, rather than arrest him to ensure he stands trial.
China has a duty to enforce warrants by the International Criminal Court, she said, despite the fact that it’s not a member of The Hague, Netherlands-based tribunal.
“There is a duty and a responsibility on the part of every government including China to assist the court in bringing to justice individuals who have been indicted by the court,” Pillay said.
Sudan is China’s third-largest trading partner in Africa, while China is Sudan’s largest trading partner. China is a major military supplier to the regime in Khartoum and the biggest buyer of the country’s oil. Experts estimate that more than 60% of Sudanese oil output is purchased by China and accounts for more than 6% of Chinese imported oil.
Reports indicate Hu Jintao gave the Sudanese leader guarantees of financial support and the two sides signed several agreements.
al-Bashir upon his return told reporters that the main focus of the talks during his visit had been the expansion of north Sudan’s oil production, in which China is the largest investor, as well as agriculture and mining, with the government determined to reduce imports.
Amnesty International had earlier said if China did not arrest al-Bashir, the country would become a “safe haven for alleged perpetrators of genocide”.