South Africa’s ruling party has slammed the International Criminal Court (ICC) as having run out of its usefulness, a day after the Court demanded the arrest of indicted Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir.
In a statement released on Monday evening, the African National Congress (ANC) supported the decision by South African authorities to let Bashir leave the country despite a court order barring him.
The party’s topmost organ, the National Executive Committee, called on the South African government to appeal the order, but argued the ICC was targeting Africans.
“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,” the ANC said on Monday.
On Sunday, the Pretoria High Court said it was “compelling respondents to prevent President Omar al-Bashir from the leaving the country until an order is made in this Court”.
The court order followed a decision by activists to challenge South Africa, which is a member of the ICC, to arrest Bashir, who was in Johannesburg to attend the 25th Ordinary Summit of the African Union.
The ANC argued Bashir had been granted immunity like every other accredited participant in the summit and that no one had contested that.
“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,” the party argued.
Although Sudan is not a member of the ICC, al-Bashir, 71, has been indicted for five counts of crimes against humanity, two counts of war crimes and three counts of genocide in the way his military quelled a mutiny in Darfur.
In 2003, Darfur erupted into conflict when insurgents mounted a campaign against Bashir’s government, complaining their region was politically and economically marginalised.
The UN estimates that more than 300,000 people have been killed in the conflict that has forced some 2.5 million people to flee their homes, a figure contested by the Khartoum government.
But Bashir’s ping-pong game with the court reflects the relationship the ICC has with Africa.
He has been to six ICC member states since his last indictment, but none of them has dared arrest him.
Since its creation in 2002, the ICC has handled 22 cases, all of them in Africa.
VISIT TO KENYA
Bashir was indicted in 2007 and later again in 2009.
In 2010, he attended the promulgation of the Kenyan Constitution, an incident that angered activists.
In 2011, Kenya’s High Court issued orders to arrest him if he set foot again on Kenyan soil.
The decision was appealed by the Kenyan government, but not before Bashir warned that no flights destined to Kenya would be allowed to use Sudanese airspace.
ANC is now supporting the AU’s position for amendments to the Rome Statute.
“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.”