International Criminal Court Warrants Should be Enforced

(New York) – Malawi should arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir or bar his entry to the country, Human Rights Watch said today. Al-Bashir is expected to travel to Malawi to attend the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) summit on Friday, October 14, 2011.

“Al-Bashir is an international fugitive wanted on charges of genocide and other heinous crimes committed in Darfur,” said Elise Keppler, international justice senior counsel at Human Rights Watch. “As an International Criminal Court member, Malawi should arrest him, not host him.”

Since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued the first of two arrest warrants for al-Bashir for alleged crimes in Darfur in March 2009, his world has been shrinking, Human Rights Watch said. A number of anticipated visits to ICC member and non-member countries have been cancelled following public outcry. These include visits to Central African Republic, Kenya, Turkey, Zambia, and Malaysia. Other countries, such as South Africa, have publicly indicated that al-Bashir will be arrested if he enters their territory.

Many civil society organizations across Africa have called on their leaders to support the court, Human Rights Watch said. The only ICC member countries that have allowed al-Bashir on their territories since the ICC issued arrest warrants for him are Chad, Kenya, and Djibouti. Al-Bashir also traveled to China in June 2011.

“Very few countries have defied their obligations as International Criminal Court members to allow al-Bashir on their territory,” said Keppler. “Malawi should uphold its commitment to justice for grave crimes by cooperating with the ICC.”

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