ICC to release SA Bashir ruling

2017-07-03 13:31
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. (File, AFP)

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. (File, AFP)

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Johannesburg - The International Criminal Court (ICC) will this week declare whether the SA government was wrong not to detain Sudanese President Omar al Bashir during a 2015 visit to the country.

"On 6 July…the International Criminal Court (ICC) will hand down a finding in respect of South Africa’s failure to arrest…Bashir when he attended an African Union Summit in South Africa in June 2015," the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) said in a statement issued on Monday.

The Chamber is now expected to rule on whether South African officials failed to comply with obligations stipulated under the Rome Statute by not arresting and surrendering President Al Bashir to the ICC.

If a determination of non-compliance is found, the Chamber will also have to decide as to whether the matter should then be referred to the Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute and/or the United Nations Security Council.

Originally, when it emerged that Bashir would visit to SA from June 13 to 15 in 2015, the SALC contacted government departments "reminding them of their duty to arrest Bashir should he arrive", the organisation explained.

At the time, the government apparently argued that Bashir was entitled to diplomatic immunity.

The SALC then approached the courts, obtaining an order compelling authorities to arrest him.

However, Bashir was, nevertheless, allowed to leave the country.

Subsequently, in December 2016, the ICC decided to hold a public hearing towards deciding whether SA was guilty of non-compliance with the Rome Statute – its founding treaty.

'Failing to comply'

On April 7 this year, the SA government thus appeared before the pre-trial chamber of the ICC to argue that the country's officials did not fail to comply with its obligations when they did not arrest Bashir.

The SALC opposed them, arguing that "South Africa flouted its obligations by actively facilitating President Bashir's escape, or, at minimum, by failing to comply with its duty to arrest and surrender him to the ICC".

Originally, two warrants of arrest were issued by the ICC between 2009 and 2010 against Bashir for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in connection with widespread violence in Darfur in western Sudan in 2003 between government and rebel forces.

It is believed that approximately 300 000 people were killed and 2.7 million forced to flee their homes.

"Al Bashir is the first sitting president to be indicted by the ICC, and the first person to be charged by the ICC for the crime of genocide," noted the SALC.

In the wake of the controversy of the Bashir matter, the SA government stated it intended to withdraw from the Rome Statute.

However, according to a News24 report in March this year, the SA government apparently revoked this idea, following a ruling by the High Court in Pretoria in February which stipulated that a withdrawal would be unconstitutional and invalid – and needed to be taken to Parliament.

Nevertheless, in June this year, it was reported that the ANC's subcommittee on international relations declared that the party's decision that South Africa should withdraw from the International Criminal Court still stood, although consultations on the matter continued.

Read more on:    international criminal court  |  icc  |  omar al-bashir  |  johannesburg

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