ICC presses Kenya to arrest Bashir

By Nangayi Guyson – THE HAGUE, Netherlands –The International Criminal Court has urged Kenya to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir if he visits for a summit this weekend. The tribunal announced Tuesday.

Kenyan government drew international condemnation in August when authorities there failed to arrest al-Bashir a month after the Hague-based court issued an arrest warrant for him in July for allegedly masterminding genocide in Darfur, but  Kenya hosted him in August without being arrested.

Kenya’s refusal to arrest al-Bashir, who also is charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes, raised doubts about the country’s willingness to hand over suspects expected to soon be charged by the ICC for postelection violence that left more than 1,000 Kenyans dead in 2007-08.

The court announced on Tuesday that judges have asked Kenya “to take any necessary measure to ensure” al-Bashir is arrested and turned over for trial.

The request issued Monday came after prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo notified judges that al-Bashir may visit Kenya on Saturday for a summit to discuss the upcoming southern Sudan referendum.

Darfur’s ethnic African rebels rose up in 2003, accusing Sudan’s Arab-dominated central government of neglect and discrimination. U.N. officials estimated 300,000 people died and 2.7 million were displaced.

Last week, African rights organizations sent a letter to Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki calling on him to clearly state that al-Bashir would be arrested if he visited.

“A visit by President al-Bashir would run counter to Kenya’s declared commitments to the International Criminal Court,” the letter said. “It would also send damaging signals to victims of mass atrocity in Darfur and globally, and undermine Kenya’s credibility on issues of justice.”

In August, Kenyan Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula said Kenya did not act on the ICC warrant because the African Union has decided no member should arrest the Sudanese leader. However, other AU members such as South Africa have indicated that they would arrest al-Bashir if he visited their countries.