‘SA govt has crucial role to play in probing human rights violations’

The Human Rights Commission says the government should avoid making the same mistake as in the Omar Al Bashir case in future.

FILE: President Omar Al Bashir. Picture: Jean-Jacques Cornish/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Human Rights Commission (HRC) says the South African government has a crucial role to play in supporting international efforts to probe human rights violations.

The commission has urged the government to be mindful of its international obligations after the International Criminal Court (ICC) found South Africa had failed in its duty to arrest Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir.

Al Bashir, who is wanted on charges of genocide, attended an African Union (AU) Summit in South Africa in 2015.

On Thursday, the Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC decided against referring South Africa to the United Nations Security Council or the Assembly of State Parties.

HRC Spokesperson Gail Smith says the government should avoid making the same mistake in future.

“We recognise that the country did get away lightly but we would like them to be cognisant of the judgment and to bear in mind their constitutional obligations to the ICC’s ruling with respect to future compliance of the international law.”

The Southern Africa Litigation Centre, a rights advocacy group, says it's disappointed South Africa has been spared harsh penalty for not complying with its obligations as a signatory to the ICC's Rome Statute.

(Edited by Zinhle Nkosi)