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SALC considering contempt proceedings against govt in Bashir case

15 June 2015

Johannesburg – The SA Litigation Centre (SALC) is considering contempt of court proceedings against the government departments that it believes allowed Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to leave South Africa in spite of an interim order preventing this.

“Being an organisation committed to the rule of law, SALC is encouraged by the court’s order and the independence of the judicial process,” SALC executive director Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh said in a statement after a dramatic two days at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

”The rule of law, however, is only as strong as the government which enforces it. Home Affairs have allowed a fugitive from justice to slip through its fingers, compounding the suffering of the victims of these grave crimes,” she said.

SALC successfully sought an order from the court that al-Bashir be arrested in terms of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant on allegations of crimes against humanity and genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. It also obtained an interim order in an urgent application of Sunday, that he not leave the country, where he was attending the African Union summit, until the matter was concluded. The government was ordered to inform officials at all points of entry and exit that he was not allowed to leave.

SALC believed that because South Africa was party to the Rome Statute it was obliged to arrest al-Bashir.

On Sunday the ruling African National Congress said that it believed the ICC was not longer useful.

But after the court handed down its judgment that he be arrested, it emerged that al-Bashir had already left, in apparent violation of the order.

Three judges heard the matter – Judge President Dunstan Mlambo, Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba, and Judge Hans Fabricius.

Mlambo expressed concern that Sunday’s order that he not be allowed to leave was violated and gave the government seven days to say when and where al-Bashir left.

The South African government said it would inquire into what happened, in accordance with the court order, and would also wait for the judges’ reasons for their decision, which was expected in a week.

SALC said it would first wait for the reasons for the decison to be given for failing to enforce the interim order, before taking further action.

”It is strongly considering pursuing contempt proceedings against the state respondents,” Ramjathan-Keogh said.

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