THE HAGUE, THE NETHERLANDS (APRIL 7, 2017) (ICC) – Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) urged judges on Friday (April 7) to report South Africa for defying an arrest warrant for Sudan’s president, saying failure to do so could render the court unable to perform its most basic duties.
South Africa told the ICC it believed it was under no obligation to arrest Omar Hassan al-Bashir during a visit to South Africa two years ago even though he was wanted by the permanent war crimes court.
The ICC’s warrant did not outweigh a South African law that grants sitting heads of state immunity from prosecution, South African legal representative Dire Tladi told judges at a hearing to discuss Pretoria’s failure to arrest al-Bashir in 2015.
Prosecutors said judges should refer South Africa to the United Nations Security Council or the court’s assembly of member states for defying its arrest warrant.
The row between South Africa and the ICC over its failure to arrest al-Bashir, who is accused of genocide and war crimes, led to Pretoria’s notifying the United Nations last year that it would withdraw from the court.
Al-Bashir denies the charges against him. Though Sudan is not a member of the ICC, the court has jurisdiction by virtue of a 2005 U.N. Security Council resolution referring the conflict to the Hague-based permanent war crimes court.