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'SA can't be held hostage by threats of ICC withdrawal'

The Southern African Litigation Centre says the rule of the law must not be compromised.

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

PRETORIA - The Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC) says South Africa cannot suspend justice by being held hostage by threats of withdrawal from the International Criminal Court.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed government's challenge of a high court ruling, which found it's failure to detain Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he was in South Africa last year was unlawful.

In the wake of the court ruling last year, the African National Congress (ANC) mooted the idea of withdrawing from the body, suggesting that it was being used as a tool by powerful countries.

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

The SALC's Angela Mudukuti says the rule of the law must not be compromised.

"We can't be held hostage by the threat of withdrawal and fail to implement the ICC Act and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. I don't think it bodes well for justice, it doesn't bode well for the victims of these crimes who are actually the most important people when you look at this case and other cases like it."

LISTEN: SA had obligation to arrest al-Bashir

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

The ANC says it will be guided by government's response to the latest ruling.

The Justice Department's Mthunzi Mhaga said, "We haven't had the opportunity to reflect on all the issues raised, so we haven't discussed it with government as counsel."

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance (DA) says it is considering contempt of court proceedings.

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.