'Human rights issues alone can't dictate SA’s foreign policy'

The ANC’s Secretary General spoke out against a court order to arrested Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

FILE. African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Gwede Mantashe. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Gwede Mantashe on Monday said South Africa's foreign policy cannot be dictated by human rights issues alone.

Last week, Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir was allowed to leave South Africa, as the High Court in Johannesburg was deciding that he should be arrested and sent to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

He was escorted by police from the African Union Summit in Sandton last Monday.

Al-Bashir is wanted on various charges including war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

Mantashe said it is simply not possible to place human rights above all other principles when it comes to international relations.

"Once you emphasise one principle over the other, you will say you have human rights but have no relations with the continent. Nobody will want to touch you. What kind of a nation is that?"

He said there would have been serious consequences if al-Bashir would have been arrested here.

"What would have happened if a head of state like al-Bashir is arrested in South Africa and we hand him over to the ICC?"

Mantashe also claimed government is right to not speak about this in public, saying it's sub judice.

He said it's the United States that wants to see al-Bashir arrested.