Judgment reserved in al-Bashir matter
The matter was heard in the Supreme Court in Bloemfontein yesterday.
BLOEMFONTEIN - The constitutionality of the state's failure to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir pivots on several interpretations of law which is set to be decided in the next few weeks.
The state on Friday appealed the high court's ruling that the adoption of the Rome Statute legally obligated South Africa to arrest al-Bashir when he visited the country last year.
Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges including genocide and crimes against humanity.
Advocate Jeremy Gauntlett told the Supreme Court that al-Bashir was protected from arrest by provisions of the Immunity Act because he is a sitting head of state.
He further argued that there has been no development in international law that abolishes this interpretation.
However, advocate Wim Trengove, arguing for the Southern African Litigation Centre, says legislation which implemented the Rome Statute placed an obligation on the state to act to execute the warrants of arrest.
He says the provisions are clear and are not trumped by the Immunity Act.
The Helen Suzman Foundation added that the constitution placed a further burden on the state to ensure those accused of crimes against humanity are brought to book.