SA should have kept Bashir in the country – EU

2015-07-24 14:33
Omar al-Bashir at the AU Summit in Joburg recently. His presence in SA has sparked heated discussions about SA’s legal obligations. Picture: Felix Dlangamandla

Omar al-Bashir at the AU Summit in Joburg recently. His presence in SA has sparked heated discussions about SA’s legal obligations. Picture: Felix Dlangamandla

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South Africa should have kept Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir, who is accused of genocide, in the country, says Hans van Baalen, chairperson of a delegation of the European Union’s parliament to South Africa.

Van Baalen, who is Dutch, and his delegation on Friday morning held an inter-parliamentary meeting with a delegation from the South African Parliament.

Sudan was one of the talking points.

Joanmariae Fubbs, ANC member of Parliament and chairperson of the South African delegation, led the discussion.

“South Africa has always been a strong supporter of the law,” she said.

“It is one thing to prosecute. If your overriding vision is that you want peace, stability and development, how do you achieve that?”

“We do seek to balance our international obligations with those of the continent,” said Fubbs.

DA MP Michael Waters said he had a lot of respect for Fubbs and that she was put in a difficult position to “defend the indefensible”.

“The fact of the matter is South Africa is a signatory of the Rome statute. We have to fulfil those obligations.”

Waters said South Africa couldn’t choose which obligations it would fulfil and when.

He also explained the court cases around al-Bashir’s visit to the European Union delegation.

“The Cabinet deliberately ignored a court order,” he said.

He said that former president Nelson Mandela once said that South Africa’s foreign policy should be based on human rights.

“We deviated from those principles when we allowed the president of Sudan to escape,” said Waters.

“If we’re basing our international relations on human rights, we should have arrested al-Bashir.”

ANC MP Adrian Williams said that it was essential for everyone to realise that it was a very difficult situation.

He said South Africa’s approach was to promote reconciliation and peace and stability.

“If we have arrested him, that would have created instability. It was for the greater good of humanity that we did not arrest that individual.”

DA MP Gordon Mackay said South Africa should not have invited al-Bashir in the first place.

“Something has changed in South Africa’s current administration.”

Fubbs replied that it was the African Union, not South Africa, that had invited al-Bashir.

Van Baalen, who had a background in international law, said: “My position is if a country signs a international treaty, it is committed to it.

“If we look at the al-Bashir case, my humble position is, as a lawyer, that South Africa should have prevented him from leaving.”

Boris Zala, an EU MP from Slovakia, said he had heard some complaints that the International Criminal Court targeted Africa, but it should be remembered that there were many other courts and tribunals that looked at human rights violations in Europe.

He referred to the tribunal of the former Yugoslavia.

“There is no region where the hand of justice will not go. It is very important for the people [perpetuating] crimes against humanity to know this. I think this is very necessary for Africa as well.”
Read more on:    omar al-bashir  |  sudan

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