AfriForum hopes ICC’s damning ruling will be moral wake-up call for South Africa
6 July 2017
The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, today ruled that the South African government dismally failed its obligations to this court and international law by not arresting controversial Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir, during the latter’s visit to South Africa in June 2015. In reaction to this judgement, AfriForum has expressed the hope that the government will realise that it cannot act unilaterally and immorally, but is subject to international law and obligations.
This ruling followed after representatives of the South African government had to explain to the ICC on the 7th of April this year why Al-Bashir had not been apprehended. The warrant for his arrest is related to, amongst other issues, war crimes and genocide in Darfur, of which Al-Bashir stands accused in terms of the Statute of Rome. South Africa is a cosignatory of this statute.
According to Alana Bailey, Deputy CEO of AfriForum responsible for international liaison, the ICC’s ruling is the most condemning public moral judgment to be levelled in the international arena at the current government’s unilateral and arrogant actions these past two decades. It emphasises the absurdity of the government’s excuses that Al-Bashir had enjoyed diplomatic immunity against arrest and that South Africa’s obligations in terms of the Statute of Rome had not been clear.
Even though no material penalties will apply to the country, this ruling is a damning judgment on the government’s failure of its ethical duties towards victims of war crimes and other gross violations of human rights.
The fact that local courts had also ruled that the government had not met its obligations in this regard, casts an even sharper light of concern on South Africa’s international policies and its attitude towards human rights. In addition, the request of delegates to the ANC’s national policy conference of the past week that South Africa should do everything possible to withdraw from the ICC, further serves to underline the moral bankruptcy of the party.
Government’s reaction to the ruling and its future steps regarding the withdrawal (or not) of the ICC will play a significant role to determine the future reputation of the state and the ANC. “Ideally it should be a turning point that convinces the government to act more ethically in future, however, judged in terms of past actions, AfriForum sadly is not optimistic that this will be the case,” Bailey added.
Issued by Alana Bailey, Deputy CEO, AfriForum, 6 July 2017