The International Criminal Court (ICC) asked India to arrest Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir during his visit to New Delhi for the third India-Africa summit which will start on Wednesday.
The ICC had issued an arrest warrant for Bashir who has been accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the western Sudanese region of Darfur.
According to the United Nations, an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur since 2003 and 2.7 million people have been displaced by the conflict between Bashir’s government and rebels in the region.
India is organising the third India-Africa summit in New Delhi and will host nearly 1,000 delegates, head of states, ministers and business leaders from more than 50 African countries.
India's junior foreign minister travelled to Sudan in September to personally invite Omar Al Bashir to participate in the summit.
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s office told Reuters by email late on Monday that "Although India is not an ICC signatory, New Delhi should act as a UN Security Council resolution had lifted Bashir's immunity under international law and urged all states to fully cooperate with the ICC’’
"As states ponder over such matters, it is fundamentally important not to forget the victims who deserve justice for the unimaginable atrocities they have suffered,’’ Bensouda said.
"By arresting and surrendering ICC suspects, India can contribute to the important goal of ending impunity for the world's worst crimes."
However, Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup has answered questions about how India will respond to ICC’s call to arrest Bashir by saying, "We are not party to the Rome Statute [ establishing the ICC ]. We don’t have an obligation to comply to it [ the ICC order].’’
Omar Al Bashir was also hosted by China in September 2014 in Beijing.
China and India are both not members of the International Criminal Court, and they do not recognise its judgements.
After China, India is the second largest exporter to Sudan and several Indian oil, gas and construction firms have operations in Sudan.
Also according to data from India’s Foreign Ministry, total bilateral trade between India and Sudan increased to $ 1.4 billion in 2014/15, from $327 million in 2005/06.
Bashir also visited South Africa to attend an African Union summit in June despite a travel ban against him.
However, he cut his trip short and left the country early with the support of the South African government to avoid being arrested.
South Africa is a signatory to the ICC and obliged to implement decisions by the court.
The country was criticised in June for allowing Bashir to leave the African Union summit despite the ICC request.
Both South Africa and the ICC issued harsh statements against each other after Bashir's visit.
South Africa has announced that it wants to withdraw from the court over concerns that it is biased against African countries.