July 30, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — Sudan’s President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir would be arrested if he ever visits South Africa, the country’s ruling African National Congress party (ANC), said on Tuesday.
Bashir became the first head of state to be indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes against humanity in March last year for his government’s response to an insurgency by rebels from Sudan’s western region – Darfur.
Earlier this month the ICC’s judges added three more counts of genocide to charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity issued in March last year.
The deputy secretary of the ANC, Thandi Modise said: "If Bashir were to come to South Africa today, we will definitely implement what we are supposed to in order to bring the culprit to Hague."
In an interview after the meeting, Modise told the Christian Science Monitor: "We can’t allow a situation whereby an individual tramples on people’s rights and gets away with it… The perpetrators of war crimes should be tried at all costs."
South Africa’s support of the arrest warrant comes only a week after Bashir visited Chad, which as a signatory of the courts founding treaty – the Rome Statute - has a duty to arrest him, according to ICC and many human rights and advocacy groups.
The visit last week was the result of an agreement to normalize ties between the countries. Since the agreement, Chad has expelled Khalil Ibrahim, the leader of Darfur’s largest rebel group the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), who had been using Chad as a base for their operations in Sudan.
The announcement by South Africa comes after they played a leading role in a failed attempt to water down a resolution strongly criticizing Bashir’s arrest warrant at the recent African Union summit held in Kampala.
The heads of states changed the text to a more harsher one stressing that member states shall not cooperate in arresting Bashir and called on African countries to balance between their obligations to the AU and those to the ICC.
This is one of several times the South African government including its president personally has stressed that it will honour its international obligations and arrest Bashir should he set foot in the country.