Bashir unlikely to face S Africa arrest under ANC immunity

Sudanese president accused in International Criminal Court warrant of Darfur war crimes

President of the Republic of Congo Denis Sassou Nguesso (right) watches as Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir (left) is greeted by Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe (back to camera) ahead of the African Union summit in Johannesburg, June 14th, 2015.  Photograph: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

President of the Republic of Congo Denis Sassou Nguesso (right) watches as Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir (left) is greeted by Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe (back to camera) ahead of the African Union summit in Johannesburg, June 14th, 2015. Photograph: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

 

Any likelihood of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir being arrested in South Africa on a warrant from the International Criminal Court appears to be receding after the ruling African National Congress (ANC) said on Sunday the court was “no longer useful for the purposes for which it was intended”.

The ANC’s view was given after Mr Bashir, wanted by the ICC for alleged war crimes in the Darfur conflict, arrived in Johannesburg in South Africa to attend an African Union summit.

Immunity to all

Mr Bashir looked unlikely to be arrested as the ANC-led Pretoria government had granted immunity to all attending the summit.

With many African states accusing the ICC of selective justice, the ANC also called for a review of ICC statutes to make them apply to all United Nations members to ensure a “fair and independent court for universal and equitable justice”.

It follows a South African court having extended an order on Sunday seeking to prevent Mr Bashir from leaving the country until it made a final decision on calls for his arrest on the ICC warrant.

Judge Hans Fabricuis postponed the hearing until 0930 GMT on Monday and urged the South African government to take “all necessary steps“ to prevent Mr Bashir from leaving the country.

International reputation

Judge Fabricuis said if Mr Bashir was allowed to leave the country it would damage South Africa’s international reputation, according to local media.

“We are all happy to be here. There’s no problem,” a Sudanese official told Reuters at the summit, where Mr Bashir was earlier seen arriving.

The ICC called on South African authorities to arrest Mr Bashir. A statement issued earlier by the court in The Hague asked Pretoria “to spare no effort in ensuring the execution of the arrest warrants”.

It said the court’s members had “deep concern” about the negative consequences if a member state failed to assist in detaining Mr Bashir, who was indicted more than a decade ago.

“He [Bashir] would be a fool if he had not sought guarantees he would not be transferred before leaving for South Africa,” one ICC official told Reuters, asking not to be named.

A foreign ministry spokesman in South Africa, which is an ICC signatory and therefore obliged to exercise arrest warrants from the Netherlands-based court, did not respond to requests for comment.

Reuters