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2 more human rights groups to address court over al-Bashir

The organisations were admitted as friends of the court in govt’s appeal against the arrest of Omar al-Bashir.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Picture:AFP.

PRETORIA - Two more human rights organisations have been admitted as friends of the court in government's appeal against the arrest order issued for Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir.

The Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein has granted the Centre for Human Rights and the Peace and Justice Initiative 30 minutes to deliver their arguments on Friday.

In June, the Southern African Litigation Centre successfully launched an application to compel government to arrest al-Bashir, when he attended the African Union (AU) summit in Johannesburg. However,overnment ignored the court order.

It's argued that as a head of state the Sudanese leader was subject to immunity from prosecution.

Frans Viljoen at the University of Pretoria's Centre for Human Rights says their argument centres on what are considered absolute crimes, such as genocide and war crimes, which al-Bashir is accused of at the International Criminal Court.

He says South Africa would not have acted inconsistently to its obligations under international law by arresting him.

"Our argument is if there is immunity for the sitting head of state, that immunity is before other national courts, but as far as an international court is concerned, that immunity is eroded."

The Helen Suzman Foundation has also been admitted as a friend of the court.