Al-Bashir: DA slams 'disgraceful' government

2015-06-15 19:04
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir arrives for a group photograph of leaders at the 25th AU Summit in Johannesburg. (Gianluigi Guercia, AFP)

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir arrives for a group photograph of leaders at the 25th AU Summit in Johannesburg. (Gianluigi Guercia, AFP)

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Johannesburg - The South African government has stooped to a "disgraceful" new low by allowing Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to leave the country and violating a court order in the process, the Democratic Alliance said on Monday. 

"The DA condemns the decision by the South African government to allow President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan to leave the country, despite a High Court order prohibiting his departure," international relations and co-operation spokesperson Stevens Mokgalapa said in a statement.

"The SA government has stooped to a disgraceful and cynical new low – and demonstrated to the world that it does not believe in justice for grave international crimes."

He said the party was in consultation with its lawyers as to what means it had at its disposal to ensure government not be allowed to sidestep accountability.

Earlier on Monday, the High Court in Pretoria ruled that the government must investigate the departure of al-Bashir, having also ruled that he should, in fact, have been arrested.

In a ruling read to the court by Judge President Dunstan Mlambo, who with Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba and Judge Hans Fabricius decided on the matter, the government's failure to detain al-Bashir was described as "inconsistent with the constitution of the republic".

"The respondents are compelled to take reasonable steps to arrest President al-Bashir without a warrant... and detain him pending a formal request for his surrender from the International Criminal Court."

But following the order, William Mokhari, SC, for the government, told the court: "I have been informed by the government that they have reliable information that President al-Bashir has departed from the republic... to the Sudan."

He said the state security minister had informed him that the circumstances of al-Bashir's departure would be investigated.

Mokgalapa said the flouting of the law "sets a disturbing precedent that the executive is allowed to simply ignore the rulings of a High Court of South Africa".

"The message we have sent out to the world - not least by our President [Jacob Zuma] and other leaders appearing all smiles and relaxed in the company of one of the world’s most wanted men - is that South Africa does not believe in justice for grave international crimes."

By allowing Al-Bashir to leave the country, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba and the government were in contempt of court.

"There must be consequences for such a serious disregard for the law," Mokgalapa said.

"The DA firmly believes that governments and those in power are answerable for their actions and must be held to account should they abuse this power entrusted to them."

Read more on:    da  |  au  |  icc  |  omar al-bashir
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