ICC refers Malawi to UN over Sudan's Bashir
- 13 December 2011
- From the section Africa
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has referred Malawi to the UN Security Council for refusing to arrest Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir.
Malawi hosted Mr Bashir in October in defiance of an ICC arrest warrant for him on charges of genocide in Darfur.
Malawi said Mr Bashir enjoyed presidential immunity, and it would not violate African Union policy by arresting him.
Three other African countries have already been referred to the Council.
These include Kenya, where a judge last month issued his own warrant for Mr Bashir's arrest, sparking a diplomatic row, which was resolved after Kenya's government said it would not arrest Sudan's president.
Many African leaders accuse the ICC of only investigating alleged war crimes in Africa and ignoring those committed elsewhere.
Mr Bashir was the first head of state to be indicted by the ICC, which accused him of genocide and war crimes in Darfur.
He denies the charges, saying they are politically motivated.
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 Mr Bashir.
The ICC said its judges rejected the argument that Mr 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 Mr Bashir, even though they recognise the ICC.
Last month, a Kenyan court criticised the government for failing to arrest Mr Bashir when he visited in August and issued its own warrant.
Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula said the government would appeal against the ruling and it would not arrest Mr Bashir if he visited again.
"We have voiced concerns about the manner in which the ICC has been pursuing African leaders and leaving leaders with much, much heavier responsibility of human rights and murderous actions," he said, pointing to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Some 2.7 million people have fled their homes since the conflict began in Darfur in 2003, and the UN says about 300,000 have died - mostly from disease.
Sudan's government says the conflict has killed about 12,000 people and the number of dead has been exaggerated for political reasons.