Malawi threatens ICC withdraw over Bashir spat

Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati has threatened that the Mutharika administration can withdraw from the International Criminal Court Treaty after a dispute over its alleged failure to arrest Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has referred Malawi to the UN Security Council for refusing to arrest Bashir.

Kaliati, who is government spokesperson, told Capital FM Daybreak Malawion Thursday that it was surprising that the ICC decided to report Malawi to the United Nations Security Council whereas it had not taken any action against some of the countries Bashir has visited in the past.

Kaliati: Malawi can't dance to ICC tune

“When we were signing the Rome Statute, we wanted to be part of the international community, not to be targeted. We can as well withdraw our ICC signature,” Kaliati said.

Malawi hosted Mr Bashir in October in defiance of an ICC arrest warrant for him on charges of genocide in Darfur.

Kaliati said Malawi is yet to be formally informed by ICC about its referral to UN, saying the government has learnt the development in the media.

“We are going to respond once a formal communication has been made to us. We do not have anything on our table so far,” she told the radio.

University of Malawi law lecturer Dr Mwiza Nkhata also told the radio that Malawi can withdraw from the Rome Statute under article 127 by submitting a written notification to the secretary-general of the United Nations.

“Crucially, a withdrawal does not affect the obligations that a state party may have incurred while it was still a party … such obligations will still persist,” he said.

“We can safely assume that joining the Rome Statute was preceded by an informed decision. Clearly, the executive would have to explain and justify to the nation why they are withdrawing from the treaty, should they decide to withdraw now,” Nkhata added.

ICC spokesman Fadi el-Abdallah told the AFP news agency it would be up to the UN Security Council to “determine what measures they will judge appropriate” against Malawi.

Malawi has ratified the treaty establishing the ICC but said it was not its “business” to arrest Bashir.

The ICC said its judges rejected the argument that Bashir enjoyed immunity as a head of state.

“The judges noted that immunity for heads of state before international courts has been rejected time and time again, dating all the way back to World War I,” it said in a statement.

Chad, Kenya and Djibouti have also been referred to the UN Security Council for refusing to arrest  Bashir, even though they recognise the ICC.

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