ICC infringed on SA's rights over Bashir - govt

2015-10-05 16:55
(Shiraaz Mohamed, AP)

(Shiraaz Mohamed, AP)

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Johannesburg – The International Criminal Court (ICC) infringed on South Africa’s rights in its handling of the visit of Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir to this country, the government said on Monday.

"South Africa is of the view that a serious infringement of South Africa’s rights as a state party has taken place and that the court has acted against the letter and spirit of the Rome Statute," the international relations department said in a statement.

South Africa was a signatory to the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC.

Monday was the deadline for the government to explain to the ICC why it failed to arrest and surrender Al-Bashir when he was in the country for an African Union summit in June. Al-Bashir was allowed to leave, despite an order from the High Court in Pretoria that the government detain him, and that failure to do so was unconstitutional.

The government asked for an extension in submitting its explanation, saying there were complex legal principles involved.

The department said the ICC told South Africa it had to arrest Al-Bashir if he attended the AU summit. It said the court invited it to discuss problems in carrying out the request, recognising that it was caught between its obligations to the African Union and to the court.

The ICC’s prosecutor then brought an urgent application to have South Africa comply with is obligation to the court and arrest Al-Bashir.

"South Africa was unfortunately not afforded the opportunity to present legal arguments on this application, and hence it is of the view that the principles of justice were not adhered to."

South Africa would ask the ICC’s Assembly of States to discuss the rules governing consultation processes with the court, and the immunity of serving presidents who were not party to the Rome Statute, like Sudan. The Assembly was scheduled to meet in the Hague from November 18 to 26.

The ICC issued two warrants of arrest for Al-Bashir, in 2009 and 2010, for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide. 

Read more on:    african ­union  |  icc  |  omar al-bashir

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