22 April 2016
The Southern Africa Litigation Centre announced on Friday it had filed its papers in the Constitutional Court opposing the State’s leave to appeal against the judgment that its failure to detain Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was unlawful.
Last month, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) held that the government’s conduct in failing to take steps to arrest and detain Al-Bashir, for surrender to the International Criminal Court (ICC), when he was in South Africa was inconsistent with South Africa’s obligations in terms of the Rome Statute, was unlawful.
This prompted the department of justice to file the application for leave to appeal earlier this month. The department said it believed the Constitutional Court “can properly pronounce” on the “legal uncertainties that have not been fully resolved by the SCA both in terms of customary international law and domestic law”.
Al-Bashir arrived in the country on June 13 last year to attend the African Union Summit‚ despite there being a warrant for his arrest issued by the ICC‚ which seeks to try him for alleged war crimes.
South Africa‚ as a signatory of the Rome Statute and having enacted local law adopting the statute‚ was bound to execute the warrant of arrest.
The litigation centre sought the execution of the ICC warrant.
“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‚ the centre’s executive director.
She said the government of should be focused on adhering to the rule of law and promoting the founding principles of the country’s constitutional democracy‚ which included ensuring that suspected war criminals did not find sanctuary within the country’s borders.