Unfortunate that SA had to disobey court order on Bashir - Duarte

Pretoria - It was unfortunate that South Africa had to disobey the High Court in Pretoria’s order and not arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, deputy ANC secretary general Jessie Duarte said on Wednesday.

“It’s unfortunate that we actually had to disobey a judge’s order to comply with an international obligation that we have,” she told reporters.

“I think the country made the right choice. You do not make the choice to arrest a sitting head of state on your soil, ever.”

She said the Africa Union constitution obliged member states to support the decisions of its peace and security council, one of which was to defer, for a year, bringing charges against Al-Bashir.

There was no talk of “wiping the slate clean” regarding the charges of genocide and crimes against humanity Al-Bashir faced for the deaths of thousands of people in Sudan’s Darfur region.

“We are not undermining the really serious human rights issues that did take place in Darfur,” she said.

Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court to stand trial on charges, including genocide. As South Africa is a signatory to the court’s Rome Statute it is obliged to arrest and hand him over to the court.

Despite this, and in defiance of a court order, it allowed him to leave South Africa on June 15. He had been in the country attending an AU summit.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said it was a question of whether South Africa should subsume its relationship with the continent to “other, superior, multilateral Western institutions”.

“Africa is not inferior, not a junior to European-based institutions. We can’t juniorise Africa,” he said.

It was not a pure judicial matter, but also a political matter which had implications for the country. Had South Africa arrested al-Bashir it would have faced isolation and its soldiers, stationed in some African countries, would have been at risk.

“What would have happened to those soldiers, including in Sudan?” he asked.

“We will be a pariah state in the continent. We can’t limit that debate only to what the law says. What are the legal implications? It’s a serious political matter. We can’t isolate ourselves from the continent.”

SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande said letting Al-Bashir leave was “part of a political understanding and settlement”. He compared it to how the Truth and Reconciliation Commission allowed for the suspension of “judicial action” against those involved in apartheid-era atrocities. 

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Voting Booth
Should Proteas star Quinton de Kock continue playing at the T20 World Cup even if he doesn't take the knee in support of the fight against racism?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes! He should be allowed to show his support any way he chooses
38% - 1747 votes
No! If De Kock refuses to unite with his teammates, then he should be on the next plane home
12% - 561 votes
The only ones at fault here are Cricket SA, who have sabotaged another Proteas World Cup
49% - 2254 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.