Over 95 000 sign online petition for al-Bashir arrest

2015-06-15 11:48
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. (AFP)

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. (AFP)

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Johannesburg - Over 95 000 people have already signed an online petition launched early Monday calling on the South African government to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, campaign movement Avaaz said. 

"Al-Bashir is wanted under a 2009 arrest warrant of the International Criminal Court [ICC], in connection with crimes in Darfur that led to the murder of nearly half a million civilians, and the displacement of millions," campaigner Mike Ballie said in a statement.

Avaaz campaign director Sam Barrat said, instead of ordering al-Bashir's arrest, the South African government was trying to undermine a "brave local judge" and get the Sudanese leader on the next flight home to Khartoum.

"This is the world's best chance to bring justice for all those that died in Darfur and President [Jacob] Zuma can't let this precious moment pass.”

Ballie said in just over three hours, over 80 000 people around the world had added their name to the petition.

The petition states that upon al-Bashir's arrest, South Africa should either extradite him to the ICC or prosecute al-Bashir for genocide under South African law.

"Under the South African Constitution, section 232, customary international law which includes the prohibition of genocide is law in the republic," Ballie said.

"The ICC Act of 2002 also enshrines genocide and other crimes in the laws of the country."

He said the petition was launched after the African National Congress issued a statement casting doubt on their neutrality in the process, calling into question the legitimacy of the ICC, of which South Africa was a member state.

On Sunday, the ANC said the ICC is no longer a useful organisation.

"The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the African National Congress holds a view that the… ICC is no longer useful for the purposes for which it was intended," said the ruling party in a statement.

It described it as "a court of last resort for the prosecution of crimes against humanity" and that the ICC statutes compelling all UN member countries to sign the Rome Statute should be reviewed.

“Countries, mainly in Africa and Eastern Europe, who due to their unwavering commitment to upholding human rights and universal justice, have elected to be signatories to the ICC, continue to unjustifiably bear the brunt of the decisions of the ICC with Sudan being the latest example,” the ANC said.

The Rome Statue was the treaty that established the ICC. It was adopted in Rome in July 1998, and came into effect in July 2002.

On Sunday, Judge Hans Fabricius ordered that the Department of Home Affairs ensure that all points of entry and exit be informed that al-Bashir is not allowed to leave until the SA Litigation Centre's (SALC) application that South Africa arrest him, is concluded.

South African authorities and the SALC were arguing the matter in court on Monday. 

Al-Bashir is in South Africa to attend the African Union summit, which also concludes on Monday.

The SALC had applied for South Africa to enforce two warrants for Al-Bashir's arrest issued by the ICC in 2009 and 2010 relating to alleged war crimes and genocide.

It said that on Saturday the ICC ruled that diplomatic immunity did not apply to heads of state wanted for trial and issued a plea to South Africa to arrest him to stand trial.

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

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