South Africa was obliged, under the Rome Statute, to arrest genocide suspect and Sudanese President Omar al Bashir when he visited the country in 2015 to attend the African Union summit in the country‚ the International Criminal Court (ICC) has ruled.The court on Thursday said that by not arresting Al Bashir‚ South Africa had failed in its duty to comply with the Holland-based court’s request for his surrender to The Hague.
South Africa had argued for Al Bashir’s immunity under customary international law on account of his position as a sitting head of state‚ and the immunity agreement South Africa concluded with the
The court said it did not agree with this submission, adding that Article 27.2 of the Rome Statute excluded the immunity for heads of state from arrest.
The court said the court’s jurisdiction to act was triggered by the United Nation’s Security Council resolution‚ which referred the prosecution in Darfur to the prosecutor in the ICC.
The ICC issued a warrant for the Sudanese leader’s arrest in 2009 and another in 2010 on charges of war crimes allegedly committed in his country between 2003 and 2008.
Despite a South African court’s order instructing the State to ensure it prevented Al-Bashir from leaving the country after the summit‚ Al Bashir left his hosts a day before the summit ended.