The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Wednesday requested that the Republic of Malawi explain why that country's authorities failed to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [case materials; JURIST news archive] during his widely reported visit there for a trade summit last weekend. Pre-Trial Chamber I of the ICC issued a resolution [decision, PDF; press release] that asks Malawi authorities to report "any observations" regarding the country's alleged failure to comply with cooperation requests sent by the ICC regarding arrest warrants for al-Bashir issued in 2009 and 2010. Malawi, being a state party to the Rome Statute since September 2002, and thus a member of the ICC, is under obligation to abide by such ICC cooperation requests in accordance with the statute. In addition to the cooperation requests issued generally, in anticipation of al-Bashir's arrival in Malawi, the ICC Registrar sent a note verbale to the Embassy of the Republic of Malawi in Brussels on October 13, reminding the nation of its legal obligations under the statute and asking for its cooperation with the arrest and surrender of al-Bashir. The note also invited Malawi to consult with the ICC over perceived difficulties in facilitating al-Bashir's arrest, but consultation by Malawi authorities has yet to take place. The ICC has issued two international warrants for al-Bashir's arrest on a total of 10 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with the Darfur conflict [BBC backgrounder]. Under the Rome Statute, ICC member nations that do not comply with cooperation requests can be referred to the UN Security Council [official website] for non-cooperation.
Al-Bashir remains an extremely controversial figure in international politics for his actions during the Darfur conflict. Most recently, al-Bashir announced this month that Sudan will adopt an Islamic constitution [JURIST report]. Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website], in a press release on the day of al-Bashir's visit, urged Malawi to arrest the Sudanese president [JURIST report] and surrender him to the ICC for prosecution. In June, AI urged Malaysia to withdraw an invitation for al-Bashir to participate in an event there and to arrest him if he travels to the country [JURIST report]. Also in June, ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo issued a statement claiming that al-Bashir has continued to commit crimes against humanity [JURIST report] in Darfur. In May, the ICC urged Djibouti to arrest al-Bashir [JURIST report]. In October, the ICC requested that Kenya arrest al-Bashir [JURIST report] while he visited that year for a second time. Previously, al-Bashir had visited Kenya for the signing of the country's new constitution [JURIST report].