ICC judges asks Malawi to explain Bashir issue

The International Criminal Court has demanded Malawi to explain its failure to arrest and surrender to the court, genocide suspect Omar al-Bashir President of Sudan who visited the country recently.

Judges at the Hague-based war crimes court has since warmed that the matter would be referred to the United Nations Security Council.

According to a media statement issued by ICC obtained by Nyasa Times, the judges requested Malawi through its embassy in Brussels to submit before November 11 “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.”

Mutharika: Why Hague

The court said it deployed a diplomatic note to the Malawi embassy in Brussels reminding Malawi of its obligation to arrest Bashir, who is the first sitting head of state to be indicted by ICC.

Malawi, an ICC member, is yet to reply to the note.

But the Bingu wa Mutharika administration said it could not arrest Bashir when he came to Lilongwe to attend Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa summit because of what deputy minister of foreign affairs, Kondwani Nankhumwa said were “brotherly coexistence” between member states of the regional trade block.

Malawi accorded Bashir, a close ally of Mutharika, the protocol of a head of state and was given full military honours.

The Bashir visit to Malawi has also put the nation on the spotlight again with a U.S. congressman demanding that Malawi should not be receiving American aid after it allowed the international fugitive to visit the country.

Republican Frank Wolf of Virginia called on the Obama administration to take immediate action against the Malawi government and drop the country on Millennium Challenge Account.

Mutharika is a known critic of ICC and when he was chairman of African Union last year, he argued that African leaders should not be dragged to Hague for offences committed in Africa.

“Why on earth your leaders should 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.”

Mutharika urged Africans to ‚Äústand up and be courageous to try our own leaders so that no African should be dragged to court outside our own judiciary system.”

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