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Arrest Bashir, Malaysia urged

June 14, 2011

Bashir and Mugabe are among several African leaders expected to take part in the Langkawi International Dialogue from June 19 to 21.

KUALA LUMPUR:  Rights group Amnesty International urged Malaysia today to withdraw its invitation to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and arrest him if he travels to the Southeast Asian country.

Bashir and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe are among several African leaders expected to take part in the Langkawi International Dialogue from June 19 to 21.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for Bashir for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in the wartorn western Sudanese region of Darfur.

“Malaysia should not turn itself into a port of call for fugitives from international justice,” said Donna Guest, Amnesty’s deputy director for Asia Pacific.

“The Malaysian government should bar Bashir from its territory and arrest him if he turns up,” she added.

Bashir is the first sitting head of state to be targeted by an ICC warrant, and ICC statutes dictate that any member country should arrest him if he visits.

Malaysia is not a party to the ICC but Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz said earlier this year that Kuala Lumpur plans to recognise the ICC’s jurisdiction to declare that it rejects crimes against humanity.

“Malaysia’s invitation to Bashir flies in the face of its decision to join the ICC,” Guest said in the statement.

“Instead of hosting people wanted by the ICC, Malaysia should reaffirm its commitment to justice,” she said in a statement.

The annual Langkawi International Dialogue is hosted by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. The leaders will discuss how to boost economic and political ties to fight poverty.

About 300,000 people have died since conflict broke out in Darfur in 2003, when non-Arab rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum for a greater share of resources and power, according to UN figures.

Sudan’s government says 10,000 have been killed. Chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo accuses Bashir of personally instructing his forces to annihilate the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups.

-AFP


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