The Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation has noted the ruling of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the matter involving the South African government and President Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan.
The Chairperson of the Committee, Mr Siphosezwe Masango, said we should remember that President Al-Bashir did not visit South Africa on an invitation from government, but was attending an African Union summit. He therefore enjoyed immunity like any other head of state.
“President Al-Bashir was in the country attending an African Union summit of heads of state, and the principles of diplomatic immunity applied. The Committee remains convinced that South Africa acted in the best interests of African states and her people by not arresting a sitting head of state,” Mr Masango said.
“Diplomatic immunity impresses upon nations respect and absolute freedom for heads of states when visiting countries on international missions. South Africa ought to have been treated like the United Nations where presidents attend important meetings in the United States and cannot be arrested while on those assignments,” he said.
The ICC found that South Africa should have arrested President Al-Bashir in 2015 when he visited the country. The ICC Supreme Court of Appeals also upheld that the South African government ought to have arrested President Al-Bashir, in compliance with the arrest warrant that was issued by the North Gauteng High Court.
“If this ruling is insistent that South Africa ought to have arrested the president of Sudan, then that is justification enough for the South African government to leave the ICC as a matter of urgency,” he said.
Issued by Parliamentary Communication Services on behalf of the Chairperson of the Committee, Mr Siphosezwe Masango