The International Criminial Court urged Qatar today to co-operate with its arrest warrant against the Sudanese President Omar al Bashir when he visits Doha later this month. Qatar, which is not a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the court, has invited Mr Bashir to an Arab summit on March 30 despite an international warrant for his arrest on charges of war crimes in Darfur. "The court counts on the co-operation of states and therefore of Qatar, but it does not have its own police force," the ICC spokeswoman Laurence Blairon said.
"Qatar is not a state member of the Rome Statute, the founding text of the ICC, but it is a member of the United Nations. "The (UN) Security Council resolution that requires all states to co-operate with the court therefore applies to Qatar." The court has no means of enforcing the warrant on its own, and relies on states to execute it. It cannot try Mr Bashir in absentia. Many African and Arab states along with Sudan's key ally China have called for the warrant to be suspended.
The Sudanese minister of state for foreign affairs Ali Karti confirmed earlier that Mr Bashir would travel to Doha after the Qatari special envoy Hamad bin Nasser delivered the invitation to the March 30 summit. The ICC issued a warrant for Mr Bashir's arrest last Wednesday on five counts of crimes against humanity and two of war crimes committed in Darfur - its first-ever warrant for a sitting head of state.
The United Nations says up to 300,000 people have died since conflict broke out in Darfur in 2003, when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated regime for a greater share of resources and power. *AFP