Johannesburg- The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) filed its opposing papers today after the state filed for leave to appeal the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA)’s ruling in the Bashir case on 8 April 2016. The state has taken the matter to the Constitutional Court hoping that the Constitutional Court will overturn the SCA’s finding that the state’s failure to arrest President Bashir was unlawful.
“Whilst it is their legal right to appeal, it is unfortunate that the state continues to waste tax payers’ money on litigation that shows blatant disregard for human rights, justice and accountability” said Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, SALC’s executive director, “we oppose the appeal, but welcome the opportunity to have Constitutional Court jurisprudence on this matter.”
President Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the alleged perpetration of crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes. As a signatory to the Rome Statute and having domesticated the Statute, South Africa is obligated to arrest President Bashir if he is found on South African territory.
President Bashir arrived in South Africa for the African Union Summit in June 2015 and after hearing of his arrival and the fact that he had not been immediately arrested, SALC, seeking to ensure that the government honours its domestic and international law commitments, approached the North Gauteng High Court seeking the implementation of the existing arrest warrants.
The High Court issued an interim order on 14 June 2015 preventing Bashir from leaving the country pending the finalisation of the matter which was set down for hearing on 15 June 2015.
The Court reconvened on 15 June 2015 and after hearing submissions from all the parties, it ordered that President Bashir be arrested and detained for subsequent transfer to The Hague. Despite the court’s ruling, the government allowed President Bashir to leave the country.
The High Court found that the state’s actions were unconstitutional and therefore invalid.
After being denied leave to appeal by the North Gauteng High Court, the state took the matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal alleging that President Bashir is protected by head of state immunity hence their alleged inability to arrest him for transfer to the ICC.
The SCA was not convinced and found that failure to arrest President Bashir was unlawful.
Ramjathan-Keogh also said that, “the government of South Africa should be focused on adhering to the rule of law and promoting the founding tenets of our constitutional democracy which includes ensuring that suspected war criminals do not find sanctuary within South African borders.”
The Constitutional Court will advise in due course as to whether the matter will be heard.
For more information:
Angela Mudukuti, International Criminal Justice Lawyer, SALC firstname.lastname@example.org +27 76 762 3869
For background on the case: https://www.southernafricalitigationcentre.org/cases/ongoing-cases/south-africasudan-seeking-implementation-of-icc-arrest-warrant-for-president-bashir/
For Twitter updates: #Bashir