Over a year after Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was invited to Kenya for an Intergovernmental Authority on Development Summit (IGAD), sparking widespread condemnation by civil society organizations within Kenya and throughout the world, Kenyan courts have ruled that the government must arrest Bashir should he travel to the country again.
President Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide, first traveled to Kenya in August 2010 and attempted to travel to the country a second time for the IGAD summit last October. Both occasions were met with heavy criticism by Kenyan civil society groups and international justice advocates since as a state party to the ICC, Kenya is obligated to arrest any individual wanted by the court. Unfortunately, Kenya is not the only ICC member state to flout their obligations under the Rome Statute and Chad, Djibouti, and Malawi have also welcomed the wanted war criminal into their countries.
After Bashir’s second attempt to visit Nairobi, the Kenyan chapter of the International Commission of Jurists filed a suit against their government to prevent Kenya from defying their international obligations by allowing Bashir to visit yet again. The ruling by the Kenyan court is an important victory for civil society organizations and international justice proponents and sends a strong signal to leaders of ICC member states that their people take commitments to justice seriously and will act to keep leadership from allowing impunity for perpetrators of mass atrocities.