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Rights group urges Malawi to arrest Sudan president

Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] urged Malawi on Friday to arrest [press release] Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [case materials; JURIST news archive] during his visit to the country on Saturday and surrender him to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] for prosecution. Al-Bashir is expected to attend a trade summit in Malawi this weekend, despite two international warrants out for his arrest on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with the Darfur conflict [BBC backgrounder]. Malawi has refused calls from western powers to arrest al-Bashir, as President Bingu wa Mutharika indicated his belief that leaders should only be tried domestically and not by the ICC. However, Mutharika's failure to arrest al-Bashir would constitute a violation of Malawi's obligations under the Rome Statute. Despite an arrest warrant issued in March 2009 and another one in July 2010, al-Bashir continues to avoid trial by the ICC.

Al-Bashir announced on Wednesday that Sudan will adopt an Islamic constitution [JURIST report]. Al-Bashir remains an extremely controversial figure in international politics for his actions during the Darfur conflict. 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].

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