Global Petition Launched as South Africans Debate Arresting Most Wanted Man #OmarAlBashir
As the world waits to find out whether South Africa will agree to arrest one of the planet’s most wanted men or not, the conversation in South Africa seems to not be whether this man deserves to be arrested, but whether an African country should pay heed to an International court’s request. The debate is raging with […]
As the world waits to find out whether South Africa will agree to arrest one of the planet’s most wanted men or not, the conversation in South Africa seems to not be whether this man deserves to be arrested, but whether an African country should pay heed to an International court’s request.
The debate is raging with comments flying about what constitutes a “good African” and pointing out “we are Africans; should we really be listening to what Europeans say”. Many citizens within Africa. and gathered at the African Union (AU) summit, have challenged President Zuma to protect Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir who is currently in SA to attend the summit. (Although the ICC is located in The Hague, its 123 member states are not limited to Europe but include countries in Africa, Asia, Oceania, North and South America too).
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema said “let us test the ANC’s love for Africa” and described the ICC as “imperialist”. He did add that “once we’ve defended [Al-Bashir], we must subject him to African justice.”
Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the Darfur conflict dating back to 2003, during which over 300,000 people in his country were murdered.
[quote_center]”Let #OmarAlBashir be. After all he only butchered thousands of poor Africans. Why care about that?”[/quote_center]
South Africa is obliged to arrest Al-Bashir, as it’s a signatory to the Rome Statute, but according to a statement made yesterday by the ruling African National Congress (ANC), they are not that eager to oblige and claim “the International Criminal Court (ICC) is no longer useful for the purposes for which it was intended.” (See full statement below.)
Reactions on social media have ranged from the incredulous – “Let #OmarAlBashir be. After all he only butchered thousands of poor Africans. Why care about that?” (Barney Mthombothi, former editor of the Financial Mail); to the sad – “Our beautiful country…where the Dalai Lama gets refused a visa three times because he’s a ‘security risk’, but #OmarAlBashir is granted immunity”; and of course to the humourous – “I put it to u that #OmarAlBashir is with #TheMissingLion.”
Yesterday South African judge Hans Fabricius made the decision that Al-Bashir be prevented from leaving SA until an application that he be arrested is finalised in court this morning.
[quote_center]”Our beautiful country…where the Dalai Lama gets refused a visa…but #OmarAlBashir is granted immunity”[/quote_center]
Global campaign movement AVAAZ has created a petition for people in South Africa and around the world to urgently sign before the case is heard. The organisation sent out an email to its members, headed “Hours to arrest a mass murderer.”
The petition is addressed to President Zuma, Minister of Justice Masutha and the Pretoria High Court.
It outlines the horrific genocide that Al-Bashir is accused of overseeing, saying “Sudan’s army and militia terrorized the population of Darfur for years. They murdered the men. They raped girls in front of their parents. And they’ve escaped justice. Until now.”
The petition calls on South Africa to arrest al-Bashir and either try him for genocide, or send him to the International Criminal Court.
Some media reports in South Africa claim it is too late, and that Al-Bashir secretly left South Africa last night in a plan hatched with the SA Government that would allow the government to argue that it was unable to block him departing from all border posts given such late notice.
This has been denied by a spokesman for Al-Bashir who said the Sudanese President will be leaving South Africa today (Monday).
[vc_button title=”AVAAZ Petition” target=”_blank” color=”default” size=”size_large2″ href=”https://secure.avaaz.org/en/bashir_south_africa_loc/?brwJfab&v=60322″]
UPDATE 15h00: President Omar Al-Bashir has left South Africa. This pre-empts the court ruling over the warrant for his arrest. “Today has been a heartbreaking denouement to the Rainbow Nation,” tweeted South African editor and speaker Toby Shapshak.
Watch Video – Omar Al-Bashir Detention Hearing in South Africa
Full Transcript of the ANC Statement on the High Court Order on President Al-Bashir
The African National Congress (ANC) has noted the interim order granted by the High Court in Pretoria preventing the President of Sudan, His Excellency Omar al-Bashir from leaving South Africa pending the hearing of an urgent application brought by the Southern African Litigation Centre to compel South African authorities to arrest him on the strength of two warrants of arrest from the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur. President al-Bashir is in South Africa to attend the African Union (AU) Summit underway at the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg. Government gazetted the meeting of the AU for Immunity for all participants as part of the international norms for countries hosting such gathering of the AU or even the United Nations.The ANC welcomes the government’s compliance with this requirement and further notes that this Gazette which provided immunity for all persons attending the AU Summit was not contested by any party. It is on this basis, amongst others, that the ANC calls upon government to challenge the order now being brought to compel the South African government to detain President al-Bashir.
The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the African National Congress holds a view that the International Criminal Court (ICC) is no longer useful for the purposes for which it was intended – being a court of last resort for the prosecution of crimes against humanity. The fact that compliance with the prescripts of the International Criminal Court is voluntary and countries can choose whether to be a signatory or not, means that gross human violations committed by non-signatory countries go unpunished. Countries, mainly in Africa and Eastern Europe, who due to their unwavering commitment to upholding human rights and universal justice, have elected to be signatories to the ICC continue to unjustifiably bear the brunt of the decisions of the ICC with Sudan being the latest example. The African National Congress calls for a review of the statutes of the ICC to compel all member states of the United Nations to be signatories to the Rome Statute to ensure that the ICC is able to act in accordance with the function for which it was intended – a fair and independent court for universal and equitable justice.
The matter before the High Court in Pretoria relating to the President of Sudan has once again brought to the fore the fundamental flaws of the workings of the ICC and the urgent need for the amendment of the Rome Statute to ensure that justice knows no geographic boundaries or geo-political dynamics.