Bashir could not be arrested in SA, says govt

FILE PICTURE: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir looks on during a welcome ceremony in the capital Khartoum, on June 11, 2015.  AFP PHOTO / ASHRAF SHAZLY

FILE PICTURE: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir looks on during a welcome ceremony in the capital Khartoum, on June 11, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ASHRAF SHAZLY

The South African government has argued that arresting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during his visit to this country would also have been a criminal offence.

This followed DA criticism of government for appealing a high court order in which it was legally bound to arrest Bashir for war crimes as mandated by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Germany. Bashir attended the African Union summit in Johannesburg last month.

Even though a court order preventing him from leaving the country was granted, Bashir flew home as South African authorities took no action. This sparked an outcry from opposition parties and human rights organisations.

Judge Dunstan Mlambo found Bashir left the country without his passport being presented to an immigration officer by two Sudanese representatives, who were accompanied by a protocol officer from the department of international relations and cooperation. DA leader Mmusi Maimane’s spokesperson, Mabine Seabe, said government was trying to cover its tracks.

“We are confident a different court will give the same judgment – that government was in violation of the court order,” said Seabe. “The government will come out of court second best.”

Yesterday, Eyewitness News (EWN) reported that in papers filed at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, government argued there was no provision for the implementation of the Rome Statute, which imposes a legal duty to act contrary to sections of the Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act.

The report said government relied on this legislation to give Bashir immunity when he visited South Africa. Government argued the court should have found immunity precluded the endorsement and execution of a warrant of arrest, EWN reported.

It further stated the court should have found that sections in the Immunities Act suspended any duty to arrest and, in fact, criminalised arresting a head of state.

 

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