Bashir barred from leaving SA shores

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir at the AU summit in Johannesburg on Sunday. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir at the AU summit in Johannesburg on Sunday. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir was ordered to remain in South Africa pending the finalisation of an application for the South African government to arrest him, the high court in Pretoria ruled on Sunday.

Judge Hans Fabricius ordered that al-Bashir be prohibited from leaving South Africa, and that the department of home affairs ensure the order is sent to every port of entry and exit in South Africa.

He ordered that there be proof of service of the order and the identity of each person it is served on. This varied to an order he handed down earlier, after the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) said home affairs officials at OR Tambo International Airport had refused to accept his order that al-Bashir not leave until the case had been heard.

The case was postponed to 11:30am on Monday to give the government more time to prepare. Their papers are to filed with Fabricius by 9am.

Al-Bashir is attending the African Union Summit in Johannesburg. The SALC wants him arrested in terms of two warrants issued by the International Criminal Court on allegations of war crimes and genocide in Darfur.

ICC ‘no longer useful’

Meanwhile, the ANC urged the government to defend its decision to allow al-Bashir to visit South Africa.

“The national executive committee of the African National Congress holds a view that the International Criminal Court is no longer useful for the purposes for which it was intended—being a court of last resort for the prosecution of crimes against humanity,” the ruling party said in a statement.

“The fact that compliance with the prescripts of the International Criminal Court is voluntary and countries can choose whether to be a signatory or not, means that gross human violations committed by non-signatory countries go unpunished.  Countries, mainly in Africa and Eastern Europe, who due to their unwavering commitment to upholding human rights and universal justice,  have elected to be signatories to the ICC, continue to unjustifiably bear the brunt of the decisions of the ICC with Sudan being the latest example.”

The party called for a review of the statutes of the ICC “to compel all member states of the United Nations to be signatories to the Rome Statute to ensure that the ICC is able to act in accordance with the function for which it was intended - a fair and independent court for universal and equitable justice”.

The ANC reiterated government’s position that allowing al-Bashir to attend the AU summit was correct because “government gazetted the meeting of the AU for immunity for all participants as part of the international norms for countries hosting such gathering of the AU or even the United Nations”.

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