South Africa: Allowing Al-Bashir to evade justice shows total disregard for the law
The South African governments shocking failure to heed to its own court order and arrest Bashir is a betrayal to the hundreds of thousands of victims who were killed during the Darfur conflict, Amnesty International said today.
The North Gauteng High Court ruled this afternoon that the South African government’s failure to detain Sudan President Omar al-Bashir was inconsistent with the Constitution and that the government should have arrested him upon his arrival in the country pending a formal request from the ICC.
However, he was apparently allowed to leave this morning despite an interim order that he be prevented his departure.
“South Africa’s role was clear from the day president Omar Al-Bashir touched down in the country – he should have been arrested and handed over to the ICC to face trial for the war crimes he is alleged to have committed,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for Africa.
“By failing to hand President Omar Al-Bashir over to the ICC during his stay in the country, the South African authorities, under the leadership of President Jacob Zuma, have through their inaction, aided Omar Al-Bashir in his quest to avoid justice.
"It is completely unacceptable and shocking for South Africa, as a member of the ICC, to ignore its international obligations in this way and allow impunity free rein. Not only has it undermined the country’s commitment to the ICC, it has ridden roughshod over the rights and hopes for justice of all those people who were killed and displaced during the war in Darfur.”
President Omar Al-Bashir attended the 25th African Union Summit in South Africa between 13 June 2015 and 15 June 2015. As a member of the ICC South Africa had an obligation to arrest President Omar Al-Bashir and hand him over to the ICC.
President Omar Al-Bashir has two warrants of arrest against him issued by the International Criminal Court in 2009 and 2010 respectively. He is facing seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity as well as three counts of genocide.
The ICC has issued cooperation requests to all States Parties to the Rome Statute, including South Africa, for the arrest and surrender to the Court of Omar Al Bashir.
Omar Al-Bashir is accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in the conflict in Darfur, Sudan, which has claimed more than 400 thousand lives and displaced more than two million others. The conflict started in 2003 and it continues to claim more lives.
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