South Africa court bars Sudan president from leaving country

South Africa court bars Sudan president from leaving country

[JURIST] A judge for South Africa’s high court on Sunday issued an order barring Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [BBC profile], who has an international warrant out for his arrest, from leaving the country. Bashir, who was visiting South Africa for an African Union [official website] summit, is currently wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] for human rights violations including genocide committed during the conflict in Darfur [Reuters backgrounder]. Bashir will unlikely be arrested however, as South Africa’s government has granted legal immunity to all African Union delegates. Reaction to the order has been mixed. The African National Congress (ANC) [official website] claimed that the ICC is selectively imposing justice by singling out Africans. Other organizations, such as the human rights group Southern African Litigation Centre [official website], had earlier petitioned the ICC to force the government to issue an arrest warrant for Bashir.

The ICC has been struggling to investigate the situation in Darfur for years and has made little progress since 2009. In March the ICC requested assistance [JURIST report] from the UN Security Council (UNSC) in the forced extradition of Bashir. In asking the UNSC to take “necessary measures” to force Sudan to comply with the ICC investigation, the court noted that without such assistance, the Council’s decision to request investigation into al-Bashir in 2005 would “never achieve its ultimate goal.” In February African leaders urged [JURIST report] the ICC to drop cases Bashir and Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto or suspend the charges until African concerns are considered by the court. In December Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told the UNSC that her office was dropping its investigation [JURIST report] into the situation in Darfur. Knowing that the ICC lacks a policing force, Bashir responded that “they wanted us to kneel before the international criminal court but the ICC raised its hands and admitted that it had failed” and further stated that the Sudanese people had defeated the ICC. In June Bensouda urged [JURIST report] the UNSC to take action to end the conflict in the Darfur region. Last March more than 30 human rights and civil society organizations called [JURIST report] for Bashir’s arrest.