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ICC declines to refer S. Africa to UN for not arresting Sudan's Bashir

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir delivers a speech during the National Congress Party's fourth general assembly at Khartoum International Fair in Khartoum, Sudan on 28 April, 2017 [Ebrahim Hamid/Anadolu Agency]
Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir delivers a speech during the National Congress Party's fourth general assembly at Khartoum International Fair in Khartoum, Sudan on 28 April, 2017 [Ebrahim Hamid/Anadolu Agency]

The International Criminal Court yesterday rebuked South Africa for not arresting Sudan's president on a genocide warrant when he visited Johannesburg in 2015, but declined to refer Pretoria to the United Nations for possible censure over the lapse.

The ICC indicted Sudanese President, Omar Al-Bashir, in 2008 over the deaths and persecution of ethnic groups in Sudan's Darfur province between 2003 and 2008. But he has continued to travel internationally, visiting Jordan as recently as March.

The first part of yesterday's ICC ruling was expected as the war crimes court has consistently rejected arguments put forward by the South African government, namely that it could not arrest Al-Bashir because visiting heads of state at the African Union Summit held in the country enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

Read: Sudan rejects claims of supporting armed groups in Libya

ICC judges said that heads of state or government clearly fall under the court's jurisdiction and cannot be exempted at home or abroad, echoing the conclusion of a South African domestic court.

Presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser, reading a summary of the ruling, noted that past referrals of countries to the Security Council for noncompliance were "futile" in terms of leading to further action and also "not an effective way to obtain cooperation" with the ICC.

Bashir denies wrongdoing and has rejected ICC jurisdiction

"It is shocking that other [ICC member states] such as Jordan are also failing in their obligations to arrest Bashir, and this decision makes it clear they do so in flagrant violation of international law," Amnesty International said in a statement.

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AfricaICCInternational OrganisationsNewsSudanUN
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