The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] ruled [decision, PDF] Thursday that South Africa violated its obligation by failing to arrest Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir [official website] when he visited the country in 2015. Two arrest warrants [text, PDF; second warrant, PDF] have been issued for Al-Bashir involving numerous charges [materials] including “crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of genocide.” South Africa contended that because Al-Bashir has immunity from criminal proceedings under customary international law that had not been waived in Sudan the court was precluded from compelling South Africa to detain and surrender him. Although the Chamber disagreed, it declined to refer the country to the UN Security Council because doing so “would not foster cooperation.” Additionally, South African domestic courts had found that the government had breached its “obligations under its domestic legal framework by not arresting Omar Al-Bashir and surrendering him to the Court.” Because the South African Government has withdrawn an appeal against the domestic court’s ruling, the Chamber concluded that the government “has accepted its obligation to cooperate with the Court.”
There has been significant criticism of the Sudanese government and the conflict in the Darfur region. Since 2003 the region has faced civil unrest from conflict between the government and rebel groups. In February UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan Aristide Nononsi called for [JURIST report] the Sudanese government to protect civilian rights in Darfur. In January the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and international sanctions Idriss Jazairy praised [JURIST report] former US president Barack Obama’s recent decision to lift all US sanctions on Sudan. In September Amnesty International reported that the Sudanese government used [JURIST report] chemical weapons on civilians in a region of Darfur between January and September 9 2016.