Omar al-Bashir ruling enough justification to leave ICC - Parliament committee chair

2017-07-06 17:52
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir arrives for a group photograph of leaders at the 25th AU Summit in Johannesburg in 2015. (Gianluigi Guercia, AFP, file)

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

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Cape Town - The chairperson of Parliament's international relations and co-operation portfolio committee said the International Criminal Court's ruling that South Africa ought to have arrested Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is justification to leave the body.

The ICC found on Thursday that SA should have arrested Bashir in 2015 when he visited the country to attend an African Union summit in Johannesburg.

The ICC's Supreme Court of Appeals also upheld that the South African government ought to have complied with the arrest warrant issued by the North Gauteng High Court in February 2016.

Portfolio committee chairperson Sipho Masango said the ruling ignored international practice to grant diplomatic immunity to heads of state on official business.

Bashir was also not invited to the country by the government, but by the AU.

READ: South Africa should have arrested Al-Bashir - ICC

No diplomatic immunity

"President Bashir was in the country attending an African Union summit of heads of state, and the principles of diplomatic immunity applied," Masango said in a statement.

"The committee remains convinced that South Africa acted in the best interests of African states and her people by not arresting a sitting head of state."

Diplomatic immunity ensured that nations should respect absolute freedom for heads of states when visiting countries on international missions, he said.

SA ought to have been treated like the UN: When presidents attend important meetings in the US they cannot be arrested while on those assignments, Masango argued.

"If this ruling is insistent that South Africa ought to have arrested the president of Sudan, then that is justification enough for the South African government to leave the ICC as a matter of urgency," he said.

Judge Cuno Tarfusser ruled earlier on Thursday that SA had had a duty to arrest Bashir in June 2015 and surrender him to the courts, News24 reported.

He also ruled that the argument for diplomatic immunity was invalid, and that Bashir was not covered by it during the visit.

Bashir, who has been president of the Republic of Sudan since 1993, was issued with his first warrant of arrest on March 4, 2009, and another on July 12, 2010.

He has been charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.

Cabinet stated its intent to withdraw from the Rome Statute as a result of the furore, saying their obligations were in conflict with their responsibilities to the AU.

Discussions around withdrawal continue following a Democratic Alliance sponsored court bid to have the decision declared irrational, unconstitutional, and subverting Parliament.

Read more on:    parliament  |  icc  |  omar al-bashir  |  cape town

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