(CNN) -- Malawi welcomed Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for a regional trade meeting Thursday over the objections of the International Criminal Court and human rights activists.
Al-Bashir is wanted by the court in The Hague, Netherlands, for alleged war crimes. He arrived in Malawi for the annual summit of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
Human Rights Watch had urged Malawi authorities to arrest al-Bashir or ban his entry into the country. Malawi ratified the Rome Statute, which created the court, and as such, it is obliged to arrest him.
"Al-Bashir is an international fugitive wanted on charges of genocide and other heinous crimes committed in Darfur," said Elise Keppler, international justice senior counsel at Human Rights Watch. "As an International Criminal Court member, Malawi should arrest him, not host him."
The court issued a warrant for al-Bashir for alleged crimes in the troubled region of Darfur in March, 2009.
Human Rights Watch said a number of al-Bashir's anticipated visits to both member and non-member countries have been canceled following public outcry.
However, last year, Kenya allowed al-Bashir into the country to attend the signing ceremonies for Kenya's new constitution.
The government defended its decision not to arrest al-Bashir by saying Kenya's first obligation was to the African Union, not the International Criminal Court.
The European Union foreign policy chief also expressed concern over the visit.
"The European Union is a staunch supporter of the ICC and the fight against impunity," Catherine Ashton said in a statement Friday. "The Court is a valuable instrument of the international community to ensure that there is no impunity for the most serious crimes of international concern; genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes must not go unpunished and their prosecution must be ensured by measures at both domestic and international level."