A high court in South Africa issued an interim order Sunday preventing Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir from leaving the country.
Al-Bashir is currently in South Africa attending the 25th African Union Summit that is underway in Johannesburg.
The South African court will decide later on Sunday whether or not to hand the Sudanese leader over to the International Criminal Court, which issued an arrest warrant against al-Bashir in 2009.
He is accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s Darfur region.
Pretoria High Court Judge Hans Fabricus issued the order on Sunday after the Southern Africa Litigation Centre submitted an application calling for the Sudanese leader’s arrest.
Amnesty International also appealed to South Africa to arrest al-Bashir.
“Al-Bashir is a fugitive from justice. If the government of President Zuma fails to arrest him, it would have done nothing, save to give succor to a leader who is accused of being complicit in the killing of hundreds of thousands of people in a conflict,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for Africa, late Friday.
“As soon as he lands in South Africa, the authorities must arrest al-Bashir and ensure that he is transferred to the International Criminal Court,” Belay said in a press release to Anadolu Agency.
South Africa is a signatory to the Rome Statute that formally established the International Criminal Court, which means they can arrest anyone accused of committing genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or crimes of aggression.
However, experts believe it will be difficult for South Africa to effect al-Bashir’s arrest when he sets foot on their territory because he is a guest of the African Union and not the government of South Africa.
“It would be unfortunate if South Africa arrested any African head of state wanted by the International Criminal Court because they accepted to host all leaders,” international relations expert Tom Wheeler told Anadolu Agency in an earlier interview.
South African government officials have thus far refused to comment and instead requested that questions be directed to the continental body.