, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 30 – The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has condemned the ruling by a Nairobi court on Monday ordering the arrest of Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir if he ever sets foot in Kenya.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the regional bloc said supported the African Union position on the ICC warrants against the Sudanese leader.
“In order for peace, stability and economic development to prevail in the volatile Horn of Africa region, it’s imperative that member countries of IGAD spearhead the AU agenda on this matter. The warrant issued by the Kenyan High Court curtails this, and puts the fragile peace processes undertaken by IGAD at great risk,” the statement read.
“We respect the courts of member states. However, IGAD’s position is that courts cannot work in a vacuum and decision has to be rendered considering the law and balancing it with the wider IGAD regional interests. We are currently looking at the judgment and are aware that there is a right of appeal that is guaranteed, and this decision may or may not stand.”
Following the court’s decision, Sudan acted swiftly and expelled Kenyan ambassador from Khartoum while at the same time recalling its envoy from Nairobi.
Bashir is wanted at The Hague-based ICC for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed in Sudan’s Darfur region, where the UN says at least 300,000 people have been killed in the eight-year conflict.
Kenya has ratified the ICC’s founding Rome statute, which theoretically obliges it to execute the court’s warrants.
Judge Nicolas Ombija said the court ruling meant that Bashir’s arrest “should be effected by the attorney general and the minister for internal security should he ever set foot in Kenya.”
But Foreign Minister Moses Wetang’ula said in a statement on Tuesday: “Since our judicial system provides for right of appeal, we shall carefully look at the judgement with a view to requesting the attorney general to expeditiously prefer an appeal in the matter.”
“It is settled law, both treaty and custom, as well as established and uncontested state practice that serving heads of state are immune from criminal prosecution by any state,” he said.
“The government of Kenya therefore expresses its deep concern at the very unhelpful high court ruling and will do everything within its powers to ensure that the ruling does not undermine in any way whatsoever the very cordial and fraternal relations that exist between Kenya and Sudan.”
In August last year, Bashir attended a ceremony in Nairobi to mark the adoption of Kenya’s new constitution.
After he left the country a free man, the Kenyan chapter of the International Commission of Jurists, an association of legal professionals that promotes human rights, went to court seeking a warrant for this arrest on future visits.
Bashir is the subject of two arrest warrants issued by the ICC for atrocities committed in Darfur in western Sudan.
The first was issued in March 2009 for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The second was issued in July 2010 on charges of genocide.