High Court: Allowing al-Bashir to leave was a violation of the law

Judge President Dunstan Mlambo says this case is about South Africa’s obligations to the Rome Statute.

FILE: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The High Court in Pretoria today said allowing Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to leave the country despite an order compelling him not to do so was a clear violation of the law.

Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Cour t (ICC) for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

Judge President Dunstan Mlambo is delivering the reasons for his al-Bashir ruling handed down last Monday, ordering that he be detained.

Government has until Thursday to submit an affidavit setting out the circumstances around al-Bashir's departure.

Judge Mlambo said this case is about South Africa's obligations to the Rome Statute.

"The statute devices a system of international criminal justice wherein the primary responsibility for the investigation and prosecution of those most responsible for serious violations of international law rests with domestic jurisdiction."

He said during the handing down of last week's ruling, the state repeatedly offered assurances that he was in the country but the court found out after the ruling that al-Bashir had left.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir in 2009.

The judge said South African officials confirmed that they would arrest al-Bashir if he arrived in the country.

LISTEN: Al-Bashir evasion: 'Sometimes political objectives outweigh the law'


President Jacob Zuma and his government came under fierce attack over their failure to arrest the Sudanese president this week.

Members of Parliament (MPs) finally had their say on the matter in a snap debate in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

The debate was requested by the Democratic Alliance.

The party's Stevens Mokgalapa led the charge.

"The ANC government led by Jacob Zuma has committed a crime of assisting a wanted man to run from the law."

The Inkatha Freedom Party's Albert Mncwango added, "Reports emerging over the last few days allege that it was agreed beforehand that Omar al-Bashir would be protected by all means necessary, which clearly shows trampling on the Constitution and the rule of law."

The Economic Freedom Fighters' Floyd Shivambu called for an African Court of Justice.

"The African Court of Justice hasn't been fully established because there is no decisive and clear leadership from South Africa from all the parties in the African Union which was going to hold all African leaders accountable."

LISTEN: Mantashe: Heads of state aren't arrested at UN, why must AU be different