Summary: South Africa to appear before International Criminal Court over failure to arrest President Al Bashir of Sudan

On 7 April 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 of Sudan when he attended an African Union Summit in Johannesburg in June 2015. SRT grantee the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) led efforts to have President Bashir arrested at the time of his visit, and has subsequently made legal interventions in the case.

In March 2005, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution to refer the situation in Darfur to the Prosecutor of the ICC. In March 2009 and July 2010 the ICC issued warrants of arrest against President Al Bashir for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed in Darfur, but neither of the two warrants of arrest against him has so far been enforced. President Al Bashir is the first sitting President to be wanted by the ICC, and the first person to be charged by the ICC for the crime of genocide.

SALC sought leave to make amicus curiae submissions before the Chamber in January 2017. This application was opposed by the South African government, who argued that SALC is not a neutral party and that such submissions should focus only on points of international law. However, despite the government’s objection, SALC was admitted to make its submissions.

Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, SALC’s Executive Director, said, “SALC’s submissions clearly demonstrate that South Africa had both domestic and international legal obligations to arrest and surrender President Bashir to the ICC when he arrived in the country in 2015. However, the facts show that South Africa flouted these obligations by actively facilitating President Bashir’s escape, or, at the very least, by failing to comply with its duty to arrest and surrender him to the ICC”.

The hearing will be broadcast live on 7th April and can be viewed at:

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