Wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the spate of genocide and crimes he caused against humanity in Darfur, the South African government has a week to explain to judges why it defied a court order barring the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir from leaving the country.
A court on Monday has ordered the South African government to reveal why it allowed President Bashir to leave, knowing fully well that he was wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
Bashir, who arrived in South Africa on Saturday to attend the African Union summit, prompted a court bid by a rights group to have him arrested, he then flew out of South Africa on Monday, before the end of the African leader’s summit, despite an earlier ruling blocking him from leaving.
The South African government said in a statement they would investigate the circumstance surrounding Bashir’s departure through a military base.
“We will also comply with the court order relating to submission of an affidavit outlining these circumstances,” it said in a statement.
As a member of the Hague-based ICC, the South African government has come under global criticism for failing to arrest Bashir, who has evaded justice since his indictment in 1999.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the arrest warrant was “a matter I take extremely seriously and the authority of the ICC must be respected.”
If we recall, the ICC indictment was in relation to the conflict in 2003 in western Sudanese region of Darfur, when black insurgents rose up against Bashir’s Arab-dominated government, complaining of marginalisation.
Since his indictment, Bashir has mostly travelled to countries that have not joined the ICC.