Malawi asked to domesticate Rome Statutes after Bashir snub

Malawi has been called upon to domesticate the Rome Statutes that established the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The call was made during an International Criminal Justice consultative forum on the compliance and respect for the ICC decisions and requests currently underway in Mombasa, Kenya.

Speaking during the forum that’s brought together civil society organisations (CSOs) in Africa that work on justice and human rights, Malawi’s Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR)   Information and Communications officer, Luke Tembo said  the southern African country should take advantage of the prevailing political atmosphere to domesticate the Rome Statutes.

Luke Tembo CHRR Information Officer

“Malawi has become a Rome Statutes compliant model in this part of Africa through the bold stand it took in giving up the right to host the AU summit because we could not allow President Omar Al Bashir to come again to Malawi. We need to legally consolidate this milestone,” CHRR’s Tembo  said his presentation.

He went to say the current compliance with the Rome statues by the government has no domestic legal backing thus subject to abuse if there was change in leadership or political landscape.

Tembo said there was need to harmonise current domestic laws with the articles of the Rome statutes.

He added that during the process of localizing the Rome Statutes, there is also need for to harmonise existing laws especially the Immunities and Privileges Act of Malawi so that there is no contradiction.  The Bingu wa Mutharika regime used this  Immunities and Privileges  Act to host indicted President Omar Al Bashir in Malawi in 2012. Bashir is wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity.

This year the Africa Union Summit was shifted to Ethiopia after Malawi indicated that Bashir wasn’t welcome.

Speaking at the same function, George Kagoro, Executive Director of International Commission for Jurist-Kenya, said:

“Countries like South Africa and Kenya [which] have domesticated the Rome Statutes should play as role models in bringing other countries in Africa on board in recognizing and respecting the ICC. There is need for CSOs in Africa to champion the operation of the ICC in Africa so that we can deal with heinous crimes against human and war crimes that tear the Africa apart.”

Kagoro noted that such crimes are mostly “perpetrated by those that we have entrusted with political powers.”

The conference aims to build on gains the continent has so far registered in working with the ICC.

Malawi signed the Rome Statutes in March 3, 1999 and ratified it on September 19th, 2002.

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