N'DJAMENA, Chad: Sudan's president, who faced charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, traveled to neighboring, Chad on Wednesday, the first time he has risked arrest by traveling to a member state of the International Criminal Court.
Omar al-Bashir has traveled abroad only to countries that are not ICC members since he was first charged in connection with violence in Sudan's Darfur region in 2009. The ICC has no police force and depends on member states to enforce its orders.
Chadian officials said they would not detain al-Bashir.
"Bashir will not be arrested in Chad," said Chadian Interior Minister Ahmat Mahamat Bachir.
The mayor of N'djamena also gave the president a warm welcome by presenting him with a key to the city upon his arrival.
Sudan's government spokesman, Rabie Abdel Attie, said Sudan-Chad relations were more important than the fact Chad is a party to the ICC."I don't think Chad will do anything to harm the president. There is an agreement to end hostilities," he said.
Human Rights Watch urged Chad to arrest al-Bashir. "Chad risks the shameful distinction of being the first ICC member state to harbor a suspected war criminal from the court," said HRW's Elise Keppler. "Chad should not flout its obligations to arrest al-Bashir if he enters Chad."
Chad is a member state to the Rome Statute that created the ICC in 1998. The ICC has no police force and depends on member states to enforce its orders. Keppler said the political deal between Chad and Sudan was "no justification for shielding alleged war criminals."