Bashir will be arrested if he sets foot in South Africa

Bashir will be arrested if he sets foot in South Africa

"If today, President Al-Bashir landed in terms of the provision [of the Rome Statute], he would have to be arrested," said Ayanda Ntsaluba, a senior Foreign Affairs official of South Africa. The country is a signatory to the Rome Statute, which governs the International Criminal Court.

Al-Bashir is being sought by the International Criminal Court(ICC) for war crimes. The ICC has issued an arrest warrant against the Bashir on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Sudan's Western region of Darfur.

Ntsaluba, Director General for International Relations and Co-Operation, issued a clarification today on South Africa's position regarding the ICC arrest warrant after more than 130 civil society and human rights groups across Africa called on African governments that are signatories to reaffirm rm their commitment and obligation to the ICC.

"The ICC has issued an arrest warrant for President Al-Bashir and this requires signatory states to execute the warrant should he land on their soil. We are a member of the ICC, we have got certain obligations, not only that, our Parliament passed a law and that law is extremely explicit about what would happen if a situation like that happens," Ntsaluba said.

He said he did not foresee the government acting outside the framework of the international laws which South Africa had ratified.

"We would not renege on our international legal obligations." Ntsaluba said his statement did not conflict with South Africa's acceptance of the African Union's resolution early in July not to co-operate with the ICC in executing the warrant.

At the time, the AU said that the resolution had been adopted by consensus, although later some countries including Botswana, Chad and Uganda said they were committed to the Rome Statute.

Ntsaluba said while South Africa respected the ICC's efforts to end impunity for war crimes in Darfur, the ICC has not made enough effort to engage the AU to coordinate efforts to end the fighting in that country.

But there was a legal framework in place that guided the South African Government, he said.

"We are signatories of the Rome Statute under which the ICC was established. Because the treaty has been ratified by Parliament, for South Africa to not observe its obligations is arguably unconstitutional and against the law.

"I do not foresee the government acting outside the framework of the law," he said.

Dr Ntsaluba said the AU would continue to press the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to defer President Al-Bashir's indictment within the confines of international commitments and South Africa's own constitutional mandate.

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