SABC News - South Africa needs more time on al-Bashir-ICC matter:Thursday 14 January 2016

South Africa needs more time on al-Bashir-ICC matter

Thursday 14 January 2016 21:04

Jack Parrock

The ICC has an arrest warrant out against the president of Sudan for his alleged involvement in the atrocities in Darfur in 2003.(REUTERS)

The South African government has made a submission for an extension to explain to the International Criminal Court (ICC) why it did not transfer Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir to The Hague when he attended the European Union (EU) summit in Johannesburg in June 2015.

The ICC has an arrest warrant out against the President of Sudan for his alleged involvement in the atrocities in Darfur in 2003, which left approximately 300 thousand people dead.

South Africa's ministry for justice says the ICC must wait for details of what happened when President Al Bashir was in the country until after the issue has been processed in national courts.

The ICC has released the document submitted by the South African government, which is calling for a three months extension to explain why ICC indicted Omar Al-Bashir wasn't transferred to The Hague.

The document calls on the ICC to wait until after an appeal regarding this matter has been processed through the Supreme Court in South Africa.

"There are also simultaneously court proceedings in South Africa where the South African government is trying to appeal or is appealing a decision issued by its own judges saying that it was under an obligation to arrest Al-Bashir," says Human Rights Watch’s Liz Evenson.

The prosecutor has indicated a concern that Al-Bashir could travel to South Africa again as he did for the African Union summit - but the South African submission directly disputes that

The report dated 21 December 2015, but only being released publicly now says that this issue is not urgent and that rushing to provide the requested explanation could mean relevant facts are not obtained.

South Africa is also challenging the ICC for saying in previous documents that court processes in South Africa are quote "unpredictable".

No Peace Without Justice Spokesperson, Niccolo Figa-Talamanca, says: "In practical terms there is absolutely no urgency. Albacore is not in South Africa so there is no issue that needs to be resolved immediately however the political fall back of a continuing and prolonged back and forth in front of the court does not look good for the court, does not look good for South Africa."
ICC judges will now decide whether to grant South Africa a 3 month extension.

The prosecutor has indicated a concern that Al-Bashir could travel to South Africa again as he did for the African Union summit - but the South African submission directly disputes that.

The Hague for the International Criminal Court, the most important thing is to get President Al Bashir arrested and transferred to The Hague so that he can face the charges against him.  

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