The South African government’s failure to arrest fugitive Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir should be strongly addressed by the country’s judicial system, ICC member states and the UN Security Council.
From 17-19 June 2015, civil society members of our Coalition met in Cotonou, Benin for an Africa Regional Strategy Meeting to advance justice for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide through national, regional and international accountability mechanisms. The groups present represented more than 600 of the more than 800 NGO members of the our Coalition in Africa.
In a statement issued following the meeting, the groups applauded Pretoria’s North Gauteng High Court for its courage in ordering Al-Bashir not to leave South Africa before its decision on an application for the execution of outstanding two ICC arrest warrants.
On 24 June, the High Court found that that the departure of President Al-Bashir from South Africa demonstrated non-compliance with the court’s order. It stated that South African authorities are obliged to cooperate with the ICC in arresting suspects under the country’s law implementing the ICC Rome Statute—into national law.
As a party to the Rome Statute, South Africa is obliged to arrest Al-Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide allegedly committed in Darfur, Sudan.
Roland Abeng, Cameroon national coordinator of the Coalition for the ICC:
“We call for the sanctioning of those responsible for non-compliance with international and national court orders to send a clear message that there will be consequences for inaction on arresting ICC fugitives. Judiciaries all over Africa should follow the South African example by taking their responsibilities and becoming a veritable, natural and independent arm of government for the enhancement of the rule of law both on a national and international scale.”
Stephen Lamony, Coalition for the ICC senior adviser on AU, UN and Africa situations:
“It is vital that the ICC’s governing body, the Assembly of States Parties (ASP), fully consider any finding of non-cooperation that may be made against South Africa by ICC judges on this matter. South Africa was made fully aware of its obligations to arrest Al-Bashir in the days preceding the African Union summit. The ASP must now take strong action to discourage such flagrant flouting of ICC decisions.”
The situation in Darfur was referred to the ICC in 2005 by the UN Security Council. The ICC issued two arrest warrants for Al-Bashir in 2009 and 2010 for alleged crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes.
Allan Ngari, researcher for the Institute for Security Studies’ Transnational Threats and International Crime Division:
“It is the responsibility of the UN Security Council to ensure cooperation with decisions arising from its referrals to the ICC. We urge the Council to strongly condemn the visit of President Al-Bashir to South Africa and for immediate steps to be taken to ensure his arrest. Grave international crimes continue to be committed with impunity in Sudan in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states under Al-Bashir’s presidency.”
On 29 June 2015, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda will present a report to the Security Council on the status of her office’s investigation into the Darfur situation. In a letter, we urged ICC member states serving on the Council to actively and constructively participate in the upcoming meetings surrounding the prosecutor’s visit and to advance concrete proposals for improving the cooperation between the Security Council, UN and the ICC.
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