Omar Al Bashir’s Escape In 2015: South African has been summoned to the International Criminal Court on April 7 over the country’s failure to arrest South Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir during his visit two years ago.
This comes after the ICC agreed in December 2016 to convene a public hearing under Article 87(7) of the Rome Statute to discuss issues relevant to its determination of whether to make a finding of non-compliance by South Africa.
South Africa is expected to make written and oral submissions at that hearing, which will take place on April 7 in The Hague.
The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) confirmed the report in a statement issued on Thursday.
“Next Friday, 7 April 2017, South Africa will appear before the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to argue why the Court should not make a finding of non-compliance against the country for its failure to arrest President Omar Al-Bashir when he attended an African Union Summit in South Africa in June 2015,” the SALC announced.
SALC’s Executive Director, Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh reiterated the centre’s decision to make its submission on the matter and also show how various government departments appear to have colluded to facilitate the departure of Al Bashir from South Africa.
“Had these ministers wanted to ensure compliance with the interim court order, which sought to prevent Al Bashir’s departure while the matter was being heard, they could have taken steps to inform their officials, in whose care the Sudanese delegation was entrusted,” Ramjathan-Keogh explained.
BuzzSouthAfrica learned that the hearing will be broadcast live from Court Room 1 at the ICC.
Al-Bashir was allowed to leave the country even though the North Gauteng High Court Judge Hans Fabricius ordered authorities to stop him then. He is the first sitting president to be wanted by the ICC, and the first person to be charged by the ICC for the crime of genocide.
The summit was chaired by Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, who had urged African leaders to pull out of the ICC.
African states accuse the international court of only targeting political leaders in Africa and failing to punish those responsible for war crimes in the Middle East and elsewhere.
South Africa is an ICC signatory and as such obliged to implement arrest warrants but the ANC allowed Al-Bashir to vamoose.
Earlier this month, South Africa revoked its decision to pull out from the ICC, after persistent pressure from the government’s critics. The pack of critics was led by the Democratic Alliance (DA) party, which took the government to court over the decision.
Gambia was the last country that left the International criminal court, precisely in October 2016 – just days after similar decisions were taken by South Africa and Burundi.
Gambia’s information minister Sheriff Bojang, at the time, said the court was being used “for the persecution of Africans and especially their leaders” while ignoring crimes committed by the west.”
He made mention of the case of the former British prime minister Tony Blair, whom the ICC decided not to indict over the Iraq war. However, Gambia’s new President Adama Barrow said that his country would remain in the ICC.
On October 21, 2016, Burundi left after its lawmakers overwhelmingly voted to leave the tribunal. The decision came just months after the ICC announced it would investigate recent political violence there. The bill was subsequently signed by President Pierre Nkurunziza.
The ICC was set up in 2002 to handle the world’s worst crimes. The international tribunal is often accused of being bias against Africa and has also struggled with a lack of cooperation even from the US.