A Kenyan court yesterday ordered the government to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir wanted by The Hague on genocide charges should he travel to the east African country where authorities failed to arrest him during his last visit.
Kenya was heavily criticised by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and foreign governments for failing to arrest Bashir when he attended a ceremony to enact a new Kenyan constitution in August last year.
The African Union has told its members not to heed the arrest warrant for Bashir, saying that while it did not condone impunity, the ICC appeared to be singling out African leaders.
However, as an ICC member state, Kenya is obligated to cooperate with the court and its arrest warrants.
The court ordered Bashir’s arrest after the Kenyan chapter of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) filed a suit against the Attorney General and the internal security minister seeking a warrant of arrest to be issued against Bashir after Kenya failed to take him into custody.
“The matter raised by the applicant and the orders sought are justifiable…. The application is thus tenable in law. I grant the orders sought and direct the minister of internal security to arrest President Bashir should be set foot in Kenya in future,” Judge Nicholas Ombija said in his ruling.
ICC judges reported Kenya to the United Nations Security Council for failing to arrest Bashir.
The Hague-based court has issued two warrants for Bashir, one dating from March 2009 on five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes, and one issued in July 2010, on three counts of genocide.
The ICC has no police force and relies on member states to enforce its arrest warrants.
Bashir denies the charges, saying they are part of a Western conspiracy.
The AU says another reason for its opposition to the ICC indictment of Bashir is the negative impact on Sudan’s peace process, at a time of sensitive negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan following the latter’s secession in July.