ICC rules against South Africa in Omar Bashir case

The International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled (PDF) July 6 that South Africa violated its treaty obligations by failing to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he visited the country in 2015. Two arrest warrants (PDF, PDF) have been issued for al-Bashir involving numerous charges including "crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of genocide." South Africa contended that because al-Bashir has immunity from criminal proceedings under customary international law that had not been waived in Sudan, the court was precluded from compelling South Africa to detain and surrender him.

Although the Chamber disagreed, it declined to refer the country to the UN Security Council because doing so "would not foster cooperation."

Additionally, South African domestic courts had found that the government had breached its "obligations under its domestic legal framework by not arresting Omar Al-Bashir and surrendering him to the Court." Because the South African Government has withdrawn an appeal against the domestic court's ruling, the Chamber concluded that the government "has accepted its obligation to cooperate with the Court."

From Jurist, July 6. Used with permission.

Note: The Omar al-Bashir case, which concerns atrocities in the Sudanese region of Darfur, has already caused some African countries to withdraw from the ICC, and South Africa has broached doing so.