June 15, 2011

Prime Minister Dato' Sri Mohammed Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak

Office of the Prime Minister

Main Block, Perdana Putra Building

Federal Government Administrative Centre

62502 Putrajaya, Malaysia

Via facsimile: +60-3-8888-3444

 

Re: Visit from Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir

Dear Prime Minister Najib:

We are seriously concerned over reports of a possible visit to Malaysia by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir- sought by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes in violation of international law committed in Darfur- to participate in the Langkawi International Dialogue being held in Malaysia from June 19 to June 21, 2011.

President al-Bashir is subject to two arrest warrants issued by the ICC for atrocities committed in Darfur, Sudan. He is charged with having committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Allowing President al-Bashir to visit Malaysia without executing these warrants would run counter to Malaysia's stated policy commitment to accountability. It would also send damaging signals to victims of mass atrocity in Darfur and globally, and undermine Malaysia's credibility on issues of justice.

The Malaysian government on March 21 announced its intention to become a state party to the Rome Statute creating the ICC and to recognize the jurisdiction of the court. At the time, the Law Minister stated that the move reflected Malaysia's rejection of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Moreover, although Malaysia is not yet an ICC state party, the United Nations Security Council- in resolution 1593, which referred Darfur to the ICC in March 2005- urged all states to cooperate with the ICC.

We understand that the issue of President al-Bashir's invitation will be discussed at a Cabinet meeting on June 17. We ask you to use the meeting as an opportunity to make clear to the government of Sudan that Malaysia does not, nor will it ever, permit impunity for serious international crimes, and to rescind the invitation to President al-Bashir.

Recent events have displayed resolve on the part of states to uphold their obligations under the Rome Statute and to avoid situations of non-cooperation with the ICC. President al-Bashir cancelled a scheduled trip to the Central African Republic for independence celebrations in Bangui last December amid calls for his arrest, and his anticipated travel to Kenya was forestalled a few months earlier with the relocation of an Intergovernmental Authority on Development meeting from Nairobi to Addis Ababa. In 2009, President al-Bashir was forced to cancel his appearance at the last minute at a summit in Turkey, a non-state party to the ICC. These events strongly indicate that, as a war crimes suspect, he is not a welcome guest. Should he still come to Malaysia, he should be promptly arrested and turned over to the International Criminal Court so he can face justice.

For all of these reasons, we urge the Malaysian government to clearly affirm its commitment to accountability and withdraw the invitation to President al-Bashir. This would be an important show of respect for the thousands of victims of atrocities in Darfur.

Sincerely,

Richard Dicker                                                          Elaine Pearson

Director, International Justice Program                   Deputy Director, Asia Division

Cc: 

Anifah Bin Hj. Aman, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Seri Hishammuddin Bin Tun Hussein, Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security

Y.B Datuk Seri Dr. Maximus Johnity Ongkili, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation

H.E. Dato Hussein Haniff, Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations