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‘Political attacks on judiciary over al-Bashir are unacceptable’

The Omar al-Bashir saga led to controversial comments from organisations about the role of the judiciary.

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

JOHANNESBURG - The 'Centre for Constitutional Rights' at the FW de Klerk Foundation says a string of recent political attacks on the judiciary are unacceptable.

On Monday, government announced it was appealing a High Court order issued to try and prevent visiting Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir from leaving the country.

The al-Bashir scandal led to controversial comments from the African National Congress (ANC), its alliance partners, and some ministers about the role of the judiciary.

There are now also threats of a protest by the South African Communist Party and the ruling party's youth wing.

The centre's Advocate Johan Kruger says the increasing attacks go to the very heart of the judiciary's independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness.

He says these attacks, which have seen claims that judges are bias or even corrupt, are of great concern and threaten the country's rule of law and the supremacy of the constitution.

"If the court sounds against the government, there is nothing sinister about that. It is the court's duty to uphold the constitution."

Kruger says judges must be allowed to decide cases on legal merit and should be shielded from any influence from politicians or the executive.

The advocate argues the problem does not lie with the judiciary, but with those who disregard the constitution.

LISTEN: How SA will be viewed in the al-Bashir debacle

SA SHOULDN'T HAVE BEEN ASKED TO ARREST AL-BASHIR

ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe last week said South Africa should not have been made to arrest al-Bashir as he has visited other countries on the continent without being arrested and South Africa was not special.

Al-Bashir left the country as the High Court in Pretoria was considering whether he should be arrested as he wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

He was escorted by the police from the African Union (AU) summit in Sandton two weeks ago.

The ICC wants the Sudanese leader arrested for charges including war crimes and genocide.

He said al-Bashir was visiting under the auspices of the AU and should not have been arrested as this meeting was part of a continental meeting.

Mantashe said arresting him would have damaged relations with other African countries.

"If you go the United Nations not a single one is arrested when it's bad and when they go to multilateral institutional meetings they get immunity."

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

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

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