Rights activists urge Obama to prevent Sudan leader's UN visit

By REUTERS
September 20, 2013 02:52
1 minute read.

 
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UNITED NATIONS - Hollywood actors George Clooney, Don Cheadle and Mia Farrow and other human rights activists on Thursday urged US President Barack Obama to do everything in his power to prevent Sudan's indicted president from attending the UN General Assembly.

World leaders gather in New York next week for the opening of the 193-nation assembly's annual general debate. Khartoum has said Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court for suspected genocide and other war crimes in Sudan's western Darfur region, wants to attend.

Washington says it has received Bashir's visa application and described the request as "deplorable." However, the United States is not a member of the Hague-based ICC, so the court would not be legally bound to cooperate. The United States also has a special agreement that allows leaders of UN member states to attend the General Assembly.

The idea of war criminal indictee attending the General Assembly sparked outrage among human rights activists.

"Our immigration laws prohibit admitting perpetrators of genocide and extrajudicial killings into our country, and it is unprecedented for someone wanted by the International Criminal Court for the crime of genocide to travel to the United States," said the letter, which was signed by more than 20 activists.

"While we recognize that the US government is obliged to facilitate President Bashir's visit under the UN Headquarters Agreement, we urge you to do everything in your power to prevent the trip," it said.

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