Court worry at Omar al-Bashir’s Kenya trip


Source: bbc news

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has reported Kenya to the UN Security Council over a visit to Nairobi by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

The ICC, which wants to put Mr Bashir on trial for alleged war crimes, asked Security Council members “to take any measure they may deem appropriate”.

Kenya chose not to arrest Mr Bashir despite pleas from the ICC and the EU for it to do so.

The Sudanese president was in Kenya as the country adopted a new constitution.

In Washington, US President Barack Obama expressed disappointment that Kenya had hosted Mr Bashir.

The ICC’s chief prosecutor has charged Mr Bashir with crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide over alleged atrocities in Sudan’s Darfur region.

‘Clear obligation’

Kenya has ratified the statute requiring it to co-operate with the ICC, giving it a “clear obligation” to co-operate with the court over the enforcement of arrest warrants, judges from the court said.

However, in July the African Union instructed its members – which include Kenya – not to apprehend Mr Bashir.

“The message we’re giving to the world by having heads of state from the region… is that Kenya is at peace with its neighbours,” Kenya’s Foreign Minister Moses Wetengula told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme.

He also argued that arresting Mr Bashir could further jeopardise the quest for peace in Darfur.

Mr Obama, who welcomed Kenya’s adoption of its new constitution, said he was “disappointed” that the country had hosted Mr Bashir.

“We consider it important that Kenya honour its commitments to the ICC and to international justice,” the US president said in a statement.

Earlier, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton had urged Kenya to arrest Mr Bashir and hand him over to the ICC.

“She urges Kenya to respect its obligations under international law to arrest and surrender those indicted by the ICC,” a spokesman for Ms Ashton said.

She also called for Kenya to co-operate with the court in its investigation into post-election violence in Kenya in 2007-2008, he said.

Kenya’s new constitution is aimed at dealing with some of the problems deemed to have contributed to that violence.

Kenya is not the first ICC signatory to choose not to arrest Mr Bashir. Earlier this year he travelled to Sudan’s neighbour Chad, which took no action and said the visit had helped to improve bilateral ties.

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