Sudan President Omar al-Bashir

© 2011 Reuters

(New York) - Malaysia should withdraw its invitation to President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, an accused war criminal, to attend an international economic forum in Putrajaya from June 19 to 21, 2011, Human Rights Watch said today in letter to Malaysian Prime Minister Dato' Sri Mohammed Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak. The Malaysian Cabinet plans to discuss the matter on June 17.

It was reported earlier this week that President al-Bashir would participate in the Langkawi International Dialogue, a meeting focused on socio-economic development. Al-Bashir is subject to two arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes committed in Darfur, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

"Whether Malaysia allows President al-Bashir - a suspected war criminal sought by the International Criminal Court - into its territory is a test of the country's stated commitment to international justice," said Balkees Jarrah, international justice counsel at Human Rights Watch. "Malaysia should stand with victims, not those accused of heinous crimes against Darfuris, and withdraw al-Bashir's invitation."

On March 21, Malaysian authorities announced the country's intention to join the ICC.  A government minister declared at the time that ratifying the treaty reflected Malaysia's rejection of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

Should al-Bashir come to Malaysia, he should be promptly arrested and transferred to the ICC in the Hague, Human Rights Watch said.