ICC asks Malawi to explain why it didn't arrest Bashir

19th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

The International Criminal Court on Wednesday asked Malawi to explain why Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, wanted by the court for genocide, was not arrested during a weekend visit.

The Hague-based body asked the tiny landlocked nation in southeast Africa "to submit... any observations with regard to the alleged failure by the Republic of Malawi to comply with the cooperation requests issued by the Court for the arrest and surrender of... Bashir."

As a signatory to the Rome statute that created the world court, Malawi was obligated to detain the Sudanese leader on its soil.

But on Saturday Bashir was among six heads of state at the meeting of the 19-member Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and returned home later in the weekend.

Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika has previously said that African leaders should not be dragged to the ICC for offences committed in Africa.

"Why on earth should your leaders be dragged to the Hague when your judges are right here," he said.

African judges and the judicial system "would be seen to be admitting failure if they continue to allow its own leaders to appear before an international judiciary for offences committed on the African continent."

"We Africans must stand up and be courageous to try our own leaders so that no African should be dragged to court outside our own judiciary system."

Bashir is the first sitting president indicted by the ICC, which issued an arrest warrant on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Sudan's troubled Darfur region.

The ICC was created through the adoption of its founding statute at a Rome conference in July 1998, and started operating in The Hague in 2002.

The ICC is the world's only independent, permanent tribunal with the jurisdiction to try genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

All cases opened by the court so far relate to crimes committed in Africa.

Malawi has until November 11 to submit its reply to the court.

© 2011 AFP

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