This followed an interim order issued by a South African court stopping President al-Bashir from leaving the country. The Pretoria High Court says Mr Bashir must stay until it rules on Monday on whether he should be handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC). President Bashir is in Johannesburg for an African Union (AU) summit.
SERAP in a statement by its executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni said that, “What we have in South Africa is a Pinochet opportunity that African leaders must not miss to demonstrate the AU’s strong commitment and support towards ending impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and other serious crimes under international law.”
“President Bashir is a fugitive from international justice who has regrettably been allowed to participate and enjoy significant political support during recent AU summits. He has also been able to conduct official visits to a number of states without being arrested. Now is the time for African leaders to show that the continent will no longer be safe havens to persons accused of crimes under international law,” the organisation also said.
The organisation called on “the AU leaders including Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari to strongly oppose any initiative that seeks to undermine international justice, and to publicly back the calls for President al-Bashir to be transferred to the ICC.”
“There is absolutely no legal basis for the AU leaders to refuse to comply with their obligations under the Rome Statute of the ICC as heads of state or other state officials cannot claim immunity for crimes under international law before international criminal courts. This legal position has been well established by the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Court,” the organisation argued.
According to the organisation, “The AU leaders should also be mindful of their obligation to cooperate fully in arresting President al-Bashir, in particular under the Rome Statute and the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1593 (2005). Allowing President al-Bashir to travel back to Sudan would be a fundamental breach of this obligation, and send damaging signals to the victims of international crimes in Darfur and elsewhere, and seriously undermine the AU’s credibility on issues of human rights and justice.”