South Africa Seeks Time From ICC to Explain Bashir Arrest Failure
South Africa has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) for more time to explain why it allowed Sudan President Omar al-Bashir to leave the country, when he visited in June.
Bashir is accused of orchestrating genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Dafur conflict in Western Sudan. The ICC issued a warrant for his arrest in 2009 and, as an ICC signatory, South Africa is obligated to enforce the warrant.
However, when the Sudan President visited for an African Union summit in June, the South African government refused to arrest him and let him leave the country – also in violation of a domestic court order.
Request for time
In September, the ICC ordered South Africa to submit a written explanation of how Bashir was able to leave the country on June 15. A deadline of October 5 was set, but South Africa has now requested more time to formulate an explanation.
South Africa claims Bashir, as an African leader, enjoyed diplomatic immunity during his visit and the Department of International Relations has accused the ICC of infringing on the rights of South Africa, regarding the case.
ICC focus under scrutiny
The ICC, which deals specifically with cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, has been accused by critics of targeting African nations unfairly in the past. Numerous African nations have threatened to pull out of the ICC agreement in recent years and the African Union (AU) has voiced concerns.
“Far from promoting justice and reconciliation… the court has transformed itself into a political instrument targeting Africa and Africans. This unfair and unjust treatment is totally unacceptable,” said AU Chairman, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in 2013.
Al Bashir faces five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes in 2009, plus three additional counts of genocide in 2010.
“Omar al-Bashir, 12th AU Summit, 090131-N-0506A-342” by U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jesse B. Awalt/Released – DefenseImagery.mil, VIRIN 090131-N-0506A-342. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.