ICC ruling an 'indictment on ANC' - DA

2017-07-06 19:45
Omar al-Bashir (AFP)

Omar al-Bashir (AFP)

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Cape Town  - The Democratic Alliance says the ICC's ruling that South Africa should have arrested Sudan President Omar al-Bashir in 2015 when he visited the country, was an indictment of the ANC-led government.

"Today’s unanimous ruling by the International Criminal Court that South Africa had a duty to arrest Omar al-Bashir in June 2015, and failed to adhere to the Rome Statute and the Court’s ruling by not arresting Bashir, is an indictment on the ANC-led government," DA federal executive chairperson James Selfe said.

The judgment reiterated what the DA had long held – that the actions of the ANC-led government in June 2015 "showed a disregard for the Rule of Law and for the principle of justice".

"This ruling upholds the ruling of our domestic courts on this matter and is thus to be welcomed whole-heartedly."

Selfe stressed that the ICC also ruled the argument of 'diplomatic immunity' of sitting heads of state was not valid, and that Bashir was not covered by diplomatic immunity during the visit.

South Africa was also not entitled to unilaterally not comply with the court’s decision to arrest and surrender him to the court, and had no right to dispense of its duties in terms of the Rome Statute, Selfe said of the ruling.

"It is however of grave concern that the ANC remains committed to the stance of withdrawing from the ICC, having reiterated this sentiment at its policy conference.

"The ANC seems intent on relegating South Africa to the status of a scumbag nation which protects the law-breakers and corruptors of this world."

SA revolt failed

He also said South Africa's attempt to "lead an African wide revolt against the ICC" failed, as only Burundi and Gambia followed in the country's footsteps in leaving.

Gambia reversed their withdrawal earlier this year.

The Inkatha Freedom Party also welcomed the ICC's ruling.

“It was never in any doubt that South Africa acted in defiant breach of its international obligations when it refused to exercise an existing ICC arrest warrant for Omar Bashir. In fact, South Africa went one step further and provided extra assistance to Bashir to evade the warrant by allowing him to leave the country expeditiously via Waterkloof Air Force base,” said Mkhuleko Hlengwa, IFP MP and spokesperson on international relations.

Hlengwa said South Africa's failure to comply with its obligations sends an extremely worrying message to the rest of the continent - that it is condoning human rights atrocities on the continent. 

“This is not the first time either, as one has just to look a little further at the blind eye turned by this government on human rights abuses being perpetrated against Tibetans in Tibet, by China,” said Hlengwa.

“The South African government in not arresting Bashir, failed to uphold the founding values of its own Constitution as well as its obligations in terms of the Rome Statute. The act of allowing Bashir to flee has brought shame on this government and shame on this country. Cry the beloved country.” 

Amnesty International

The ruling also elicited a response from civil society, with Amnesty International criticising South Africa's actions.

“Today’s finding confirms what everyone, including South African authorities, knew all along. Bashir does not have immunity from arrest and all states parties to the Rome Statute must arrest him the minute he steps onto their territory and hand him over to the ICC," said Amnesty International’s Africa Director for Research and Advocacy, Netsanet Belay.

“It is shocking that other states parties such as Jordan are also failing in their obligations to arrest Bashir and this decision makes it clear that they do so in flagrant violation of international law.

“South Africa breached its international and domestic legal obligations when it failed to arrest Bashir. No state should follow this example. There must be no impunity for crimes under international law.

“By failing to execute the ICC’s warrant against Bashir, South African authorities took away a major opportunity from victims to achieve justice. What's most important now is such shameful failure is never repeated. South Africa must now put its weight behind international justice which faces increasing global challenges.”

Read more on:    international criminal court  |  amnesty international  |  da  |  omar al-bashir  |  sudan

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