South Africa grilled by ICC over decision to not arrest Al Bashir

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir visited South Africa for an African Union Summit in Johannesburg last June. Bashir has two international arrest warrants issued in his name. They were issued in 2009 and 2010. He also faces ten charges.

While in South Africa, in 2015, the South African government failed to carry out this international arrest warrant.

On Friday, the South African legal representatives told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that government was under no obligation to arrest a sitting head of state like Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir.

Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC's) Executive Director spoke to Africa Melane about Friday's court proceedings as well as the SALC's interest and involvement in the case.

Ramjathan-Keogh says her organisation, SALC pursued an arrest warrant for Bashir when he was in South Africa.

My organisation sought leave to be granted amicus status and to file an amicus intervention at this hearing, due to our close relationship with the situation in South Africa and litigation.

Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, Executive Director , SALC

We had a lot of very good in depth knowledge of the factual and the legal situation. And on this basis, asked to provide a submission to the court which South Africa opposed in writing.

Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, Executive Director , SALC

Ramjathan-Keogh says the court did grant them permission to file the amicus brief, saying it was desirable as the information would assist the court in their determination of the case. She says they made submission of what transpired in the three days that Bashir was in the country.

And essentially this was saying to the court that there were number of government departments who were assisting and facilitating Bashir's stay in the country and also who facilitated his departure.

Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, Executive Director , SALC

There were immigration officials who were stationed at the Waterkloof Air-force base who processed the delegation for departure.

Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, Executive Director , SALC

Ramjathan-Keogh adds that these government officials acted against an interim order from the High Court in Pretoria preventing the Sudanese President from leaving South Africa.

Ramjathan-Keogh says they are now working towards proving government's claims that they attempted to cooperate with the court incorrect.

Listen to full interview in the audio below:

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