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ICC to hold South Africa accountable after failing to arrest Al Bashir

September 8 - 2015 THE HAGUE
International Criminal Court Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda (file photo)
International Criminal Court Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda (file photo)

The International Criminal Court looks to holding the government of South Africa accountable for its failure to arrest Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir, when he attended an African Union summit in Johannesburg in June.

South Africa as signatory of the ICC statute is obliged to explain in writing why it had allowed president Al Bashir to leave the country from a military base, the ICC confirmed in its order requesting submissions from the state party, which can be read below.

Before Al Bashir traveled to South Africa in June, the ICC even met with the South African government, days before the Johannesburg summit. They explained that there was no lack of clarity or ambiguity in the South African law and the international law regarding the matter of arresting the wanted Sudanese President.

During the meeting the representative of South Africa argued that there was “lack of clarity” in the South African law, and that the state was subject to “competing obligations”.

The ICC, based in The Hague, now requests South Africa to explain the events surrounding Al Bashir’s departure on 15 June, while the country’s High Court had ordered the government to ensure that the President did not leave while the court decided on his arrest later that Monday.

South Africa must provide written reasons no later than 5 October, the ICC said in its statement.

Last week, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa met with President Omar Al Bashir in Bejing, where he agreed to visit Sudan and strengthen their ties.

Under Rome Statute Article 25(3)(a), Al Bashir faces ten counts on the basis of his individual criminal responsibility as an indirect (co) perpetrator, including five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes in 2009, and adding three counts of genocide in 2010. The investigation into the crimes in Darfur by the ICC have been put on hold, however, owing to a lack of action by the UN Security Council.  

Related:

South Africa considers quitting ICC after escape Al Bashir (25 June 2015)

Al Bashir narrowly escapes arrest in South Africa (15 June 2015)

ICC order for South Africa submissions on Al Bashir's escape

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