South Africa: Supreme Court ruling shows there can be no impunity for alleged war criminals

South Africa government's decision to allow Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to leave the country last year was a "cruel betrayal of the hundreds of thousands of people killed and displaced during the Darfur conflict" said Amnesty International in response to the ruling by the South African appeal court.  

 

South Africa's appeals court upheld the Supreme Court's ruling that criticised the government for allowing Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to leave South Africa despite an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

 

Amnesty International’s Advocacy Director for Africa, Netsanet Belay said: 

“The Supreme Court of Appeal’s ruling upholds the rule of law and reinforces the country’s progressive laws aimed at ending impunity for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is a stinging rebuke to the government for its failure to abide by its domestic and international obligations to arrest President Bashir and surrender him to the International Criminal Court.   

 

“The South African government’s decision not to arrest Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir during his visit to Johannesburg for the African Union Summit last year was a cruel betrayal of the hundreds of thousands of people killed and displaced during the Darfur conflict. The ruling that this decision was inconsistent with South African law is a small step towards justice for these victims and their families.

 

“He should never have been allowed to leave the country, and South Africa must now take full responsibility for its failure to respect its own laws as well as the ICC, and accept that it has played a part in providing impunity to Omar Al-Bashir.”

The International Criminal Court issued two warrants of arrest against Omar al-Bashir in 2009 and 2010 respectively. He is facing seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity as well as three counts of genocide.

 

Despite this, the South African authorities allowed him to freely attend the 24th African Union Summit in South Africa from 13-15 June 2015.

 

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