SALC: Govt must respect the rule of law

Government must now file an affidavit explaining the circumstances of al-Bashir’s exit from SA.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir speaks during a press conference on 30 November, 2014. Picture: AFP.

PRETORIA - The Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC) is satisfied that the high court has settled the government's misconception that it's African Union (AU) obligations overrides its obligations to internal criminal law and human rights.

Judge President Dunstan Mlambo delivered the reasons for the court order handed down last week, which instructed government to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and hand him over to the International Criminal Court.

Mlambo found that government's reliance on domestic diplomatic immunity legislation to shield al-Bashir was ill-advised and misguided.

The SALC's Angela Mudukuti says the judge president made important pronouncements on the rule of law and how government should have conducted itself.

"I hope government will take the court judgment seriously because I think that's what we see in the situation, that a lack of respect for the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law."

University of Cape Town Law Professor David Unterhalter says there is no excuse for disobeying a court order, as it's believed government did for diplomatic reasons.

"Nobody has a choice to disobey a court order. You must obey and if you disagree with the order, you must go to court to try and have it set aside or appeal. So you obey as your first duty."

Government has been ordered to file an affidavit explaining the circumstances of al-Bashir's exit from South Africa.