South Africa should have prevented Omar Al-Bashir from leaving the country, a delegation from the EU’s parliament said this week – but the ANC maintains this country’s failure to arrest him had been “for the greater good of humanity”.
The chairman of the European delegation, Hans van Baalen, said: ” I am a lawyer and have looked into cases such as the Yugoslav tribunal, and if a country signs an international treaty, it is committed to it .
“South Africa should have prevented Bashir from leaving the country,” he said.
The chairman of the South African delegation, Joanmariae Fubbs, said the government was balancing its international obligations against its obligations on the continent .
She said the International Criminal Court’s original charges against Bashir had been “considerably reduced” and South Africa had always preferred reconciliation and regional integration.
“We were not prepared to allow another Central African Republic [situation to develop]. We went there as a peacekeeping training group and we buried our soldiers here.”
News reports at the time of al-Bashir’s visit to South Africa indicated that South African troops had come under pressure in Sudan as a result of the threat to his liberty, but the government denied this.
Fubbs’s ANC colleague Adrian Williams said if the arrest had been made “thousands would have died”.
“It is for the greater good of humanity that we did not arrest that individual,” he said.
The DA’s Mike Waters said Fubbs was “trying to defend the indefensible”.
He said Bashir’s “escape” violated a High Court order.
As he spoke, members of the South African delegation murmured that the matter was “sub judice”.
Fubbs told the EU delegation: “Until the courts pronounce on it, we don’t have a final position.”