The International Criminal Court (ICC) has invited the South African government next Friday to account for failing to arrest Sudan President Omar al-Bashir when he attended an African Union summit in the country in 2015.
The ICC issued two warrants of arrest for President Bashir, but the South African government allowed him to leave the country.
President Bashir is wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity, genocide, war crimes and murder committed in Darfur.
“Next Friday, April 7, 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 Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) said in a statement on Thursday.
The SALC explained that the South African government will make written and oral submissions at that hearing, which takes place in The Hague.
The ICC will then decide whether South Africa failed to comply with its obligation under the Rome Statute, by not arresting and surrendering President Bashir to them.
SALC executive director Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh said facts showed that South Africa flouted those obligations by actively facilitating President Bashir’s escape.
She said its submissions will also show how various government departments colluded to facilitate the departure of President Bashir from South Africa.
“Had these ministers wanted to ensure compliance with the interim court order, which sought to prevent 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,” said Ms Ramjathan-Keogh.
South Africa was in the process of pulling out of the ICC but that decision was revoked by the Pretoria High Court.
Justice minister Michael Masutha announced earlier in the year that the country had initiated the process of withdrawing from the ICC.
He said, at the time, that the South African government felt the ICC undermined its sovereignty and had previously shown bias against African nations.
The Pretoria High Court last month declared that the government’s notice of withdrawal was “unconstitutional and invalid”.
- Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir arrives for a group photograph of leaders at the 25th African Union Summit in Sandton South Africa on June 14, 2015.