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'SCA decision a victory for the rule of law'

The Supreme Court of Appeal reaffirmed SA’s obligations to the ICC, on the al-Bashir matter.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Picture: Ashraf Shazly/AFP.

PRETORIA - The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has been commended for reaffirming South Africa's obligations to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and its legal duty to arrest and hand over fugitives, like Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

#AlBashir SCA not taken by government conduct and explanations. BB pic.twitter.com/F8WK6i9ayK

The court today dismissed the government's appeal against a high court ruling, and found that its failure to detain al-Bashir when he was in South Africa last year was unlawful.

The Sudanese president is wanted on an international warrant of arrest for several crimes, including genocide and crimes against humanity.

#AlBashir SCA: either government misled the court, or its counsel did - either way, it's "disgraceful". BB pic.twitter.com/5dJdfN53ls

The Southern African Litigation Centre's (SALC) Angela Mudukuti says the ruling bodes well for the rule of law.

"An important principle has been upheld and the court has made it clear that South Africa has a duty in terms of domestic and international law with regards to President Omar al-Bashir. We think that sends an important message because South Africa should not be treated as a safe haven for perpetrators."

The Helen Suzman Foundation's Francis Antonie says he hopes government has learnt from this exercise.

"I think it's an important victory for the rule of law and it's an important statement by the court that government is bound by the Constitution and its international obligations as incorporated into our law."

#AlBashir the Southern African Litigation Centre and Helen Suzman Foundation... pic.twitter.com/7abHw6DyQM

SALC READY FOR GOVERNMENT

While government has not ruled out another appeal in the al-Bashir matter, the SALC says it's ready to oppose any such application in the Constitutional Court.

The government's Mthunzi Mhaga says they're disappointed with the ruling, but have not yet fully studied it.

"We will use this opportunity to reflect on these issues raised, with the view to whether this is a matter that we need to escalate to the Constitutional Court as a final abettor."

Mudukuti, however, says they're confident of their case.

"We are prepared should government take it further because our position is strong in law and founded on the correct interpretation of the Rome Statute Act and the Rome Statute itself."

While the African National Congress (ANC) says it's guided by government's position on the matter, the Democratic Alliance (DA) says it's considering contempt of court proceedings.

#AlBashir the ANC says it will await government's response to the SCA ruling before commenting on the matter. BB