Govt writes to ICC to clarify matter on Omar al-Bashir

The court says it will hold a public hearing next April to probe whether SA failed in its duty by refusing to arrest al-Bashir.

Justice Minister Michael Masutha addresses the media at the GCIS head office in Pretoria on 21 October 2016 to confirm South Africa's decision to withdraw from the International Crimanal Court. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – Justice Minister Michael Masutha says the government has written to the International Criminal Court (ICC) seeking clarity on the Omar al-Bashir matter.

The court has called on South Africa to send representatives to a hearing next year to explain it did not execute the warrant to arrest al-Bashir.

Al Bashir visited the country for an African Union Summit in Johannesburg last June. He is wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity.

Masutha says they are communicating with the ICC.

“We’ve since written to the court to clarify the procedure we’ll need to follow in responding to that invitation and clarify why we didn’t execute the warrant.”

The court says it will hold a public hearing next April to probe whether South Africa failed in its duty by refusing to arrest al-Bashir.

Bashir is wanted by the court for war crimes and genocide in Darfur. As a Rome Statute signatory, South Africa was obliged to hold him.

The Appeal Court’s accused government of disgraceful conduct and ruled that failure to arrest Bashir was unlawful.

Government maintains al-Bashir had immunity as an AU head of state.

It has subsequently given notice that it is leaving the ICC.

But this does not relieve it of its obligations while still a signatory.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)