Statement by Alison Smith, Legal Counsel of No Peace Without Justice:
“No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) and the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT) call upon the Government of Malawi to arrest President Omar al-Bashir and hand him over to the International Criminal Court. While it is certainly in the interest of President al-Bashir to expand the range of countries where he is seen to be able to travel with impunity, it is certainly not in Malawi’s interest to be considered a safe haven for war criminals. Aside from risking its legitimacy as a law-abiding country, it is the obligation of each ICC State Party – including Malawi – to ensure ICC arrest warrants are not simply swept under the carpet.
“We call on the Court and States Parties to use all possible channels to press the Malawi Government to execute the arrest warrant while President al-Bashir is in Malawi. We further call on the Court and its States Parties to be clear with Malawi that there may be severe consequences for failure to comply with the Rome Statute. The judges of the Court could make a finding that Malawi’s non-cooperation would prevent the ICC from exercising its functions and could refer the matter to the Assembly of States Parties or the United Nations Security Council as a result.
“Hundreds of thousands of victims of the violence in Darfur now live as refugees as a result of the crimes committed against them. The ICC has found that there is reasonable basis to believe that President al-Bashir may have been responsible for some of the crimes they suffered. The time has come to hold President al-Bashir and other ICC fugitives to account, not to welcome them with open arms. Malawi can strike a decisive blow for peace in the region by removing from the equation one of the actors who has been most responsible for the decades of instability it has endured.”