NEWS

South Africa Called To Appear At International Criminal Court In April Over Sudan's Al-Bashir

South Africa failed to arrest Al-Bashir and now the ICC wants an explanation. South Africa earlier told the ICC it can't pull out yet.

08/03/2017 13:02 SAST | Updated 08/03/2017 13:20 SAST
Ebrahim Hamid/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir at the Presidential Mansion in Khartoum, Sudan on March 2, 2017. South Africa is now being summoned to the International Criminal Court to explain why they failed to arrest him.

South African authorities have been asked to appear at the International Criminal Court on April 7 over the country's failure to arrest Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir during a visit two years ago, the acting chief state law adviser said on Wednesday.

Pretoria announced its intention to leave the ICC in 2015 after the Hague-based court criticised it for disregarding an order to arrest Al-Bashir, who is accused of genocide and war crimes. Al-Bashir has denied the accusations.

On Tuesday, South Africa formally revoked its withdrawal from the ICC after its high court blocked the government's bid to pull out of the war crimes tribunal.

South Africa notified United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that, because of the high court decision, "the Instrument of Withdrawal was found to be unconstitutional and invalid," according to a document posted on the UN treaties website.

In order to adhere to last month's court judgment — which ruled South Africa's Parliament needed to approve the country's withdrawal from the ICC — the planned pull-out would be revoked "with immediate effect," according to the March 7 UN document.

Pretoria had initially notified the UN of its intent to withdraw in October, starting a year-long divorce period that would have made South Africa the first country to quit the court in October this year.

South African Justice Minister Michael Masutha said last month that the court ruling amounted to a delay that would not stop the government's bid to leave the ICC, which some African governments feel unfairly targets Africans and which Pretoria said was at odds with its diplomatic immunity laws.

Pretoria announced its intention to leave in 2015 after the ICC criticised it for disregarding an order to arrest Al-Bashir, accused of genocide and war crimes. Al-Bashir has denied the accusations.

The ICC, which was launched in July 2002 and has 124 member states, is the first legal body with permanent international jurisdiction to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Three African states — South Africa, Gambia and Burundi — last year signaled their intention to quit the ICC. Gambia's President Adama Barrow, elected in December, said earlier this month that the tiny West African nation would remain in the ICC.