Sudan President Omar al-Bashir [BBC profile] was allowed to leave South Africa on Monday, despite a ruling by the North Gauteng High Court [official website] that he should be kept in the country [JURIST report] because of International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] warrants [ICC materials] for his arrest. Shortly after he left, the High Court issued its own order for his arrest. Bashir was visiting South Africa for an African Union [official website] summit and had been offered immunity [Guardian report] during the summit by the South African government. Human rights groups including Amnesty International [advocacy website] strongly criticized [press release] Bashir’s allowed departure.
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.