In an affront to international justice, Kenya has defied an International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, by allowing Bashir to visit Nairobi.
Bashir attended Kenya’s signing of its new constitution, leaving a bloody mark on what Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga described as a “clean new page” upon which to “begin writing the story of an equal and just society.”
As a signatory of the treaty establishing the ICC, Kenya has an obligation to arrest Bashir. Its failure to do so calls into question its commitment to international justice. The African Union’s call last month for its members not to cooperate in the arrest of Bashir, does not supersede their ICC obligations. Both Botswana and South Africa have recognized this and have vowed to arrest Bashir should he visit their country. Bashir has visited other countries since the warrants were released, including a visit to another ICC member, Chad, last month. But no other country allowing a visit by Bashir has been as close to the United States nor as verbally committed to the ICC as Kenya.
Bashir’s visit should be condemned by those who seek to end impunity for the world’s worst crimes. The United States, which has repeatedly supported the ICC’s efforts to bring those responsible for genocide and war crimes in Darfur to justice, should be at the forefront of this group, publicly condemning Kenya’s actions and using all possible political leverage to hold it to its international commitments.