03/07/2017 13:18 BST | Updated 03/07/2017 13:18 BST

ICC To Release Ruling On Al-Bashir's Controversial Departure From SA

The ICC will declare this week whether or not the government was wrong to allow the Sudanese president to leave the country in 2015.

Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah / Reuters
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (r) welcomes South African President Jacob Zuma at Khartoum airport on January 31 2015.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) will this week declare whether the South African government was wrong not to detain Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during a 2015 visit to the country.

"On 6 July ... the International Criminal Court will hand down a finding in respect of South Africa's failure to arrest ... Bashir when he attended an African Union Summit in South Africa in June 2015," the South African Litigation Centre (Salc) said on Monday.

The chamber is now expected to rule on whether South African officials failed to comply with obligations stipulated under the Rome Statute by not arresting and surrendering Al-Bashir to the ICC.

If a determination of non-compliance is found, the chamber will have to decide as to whether the matter should then be referred to the Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute and/or the United Nations Security Council.

Originally, when it emerged that Al-Bashir would visit South Africa from June 13 to 15 in 2015, Salc contacted government departments "reminding them of their duty to arrest Bashir should he arrive", said the organisation.

At the time, the government apparently said Al-Bashir was entitled to diplomatic immunity.

Salc then approached the courts, obtaining an order compelling authorities to arrest him. But Al-Bashir was allowed to leave the country.

Subsequently, in December 2016, the ICC decided to hold a public hearing to decide if South Africa was guilty of non-compliance with the Rome Statute, its founding treaty.

'Failing to comply'

On April 7 this year, the South African government thus appeared before the pretrial chamber of the ICC to argue that the country's officials did not fail to comply with its obligations when they did not arrest Al-Bashir.

Salc opposed them, arguing that "South Africa flouted its obligations by actively facilitating President Bashir's escape, or, at minimum, by failing to comply with its duty to arrest and surrender him to the ICC".

Originally, two warrants of arrest were issued by the ICC between 2009 and 2010 against Al-Bashir for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in connection with widespread violence in Darfur in western Sudan in 2003 between government and rebel forces.

It is believed that approximately 300,000 people were killed and 2,7 million forced to flee their homes.

"Al-Bashir is the first sitting president to be indicted by the ICC, and the first person to be charged by the ICC for the crime of genocide," said Salc.

In the wake of the controversy of the Al-Bashir matter, the South African government said that it intended to withdraw from the Rome Statute.

But the government apparently revoked the idea following a ruling by the high court in Pretoria in February, which stipulated that a withdrawal would be unconstitutional and invalid – and needed to be taken to Parliament.

Nevertheless, in June this year it was reported that the ANC's subcommittee on international relations declared that the party's decision that South Africa withdraw from the ICC still stood, although consultations on the matter continued. - News24