The South African government was summoned to the International Criminal Court (ICC) Wednesday for failing to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, when he visited the country two years ago.
Confirming the order, Ayesha Johaar, the South African acting chief state law adviser, said authorities in Pretoria province, South Africa, have been asked to appear in the Hague-based court for failing to comply with a cooperation request from the court’s tribunal to arrest the Sudanese leader.
“It concerns an order of non-compliance by South Africa as a member state of the ICC and Sudan’s president,” Johaar told Reuters.
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President al-Bashir is wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity committed by his troops during the infamous Darfur war.
He is accused of ordering the mass slaughter of civilians in the Darfur region, accusations that he has consistently denied.
According to Article 86 of the Rome Statute, all state parties shall, in accordance with the provisions of the statute, cooperate fully with the court in its investigation and prosecution of crimes within its jurisdiction.
Where a state party fails to comply with the court’s request — thereby preventing the court from exercising its functions and powers — the court is required to report the matter to the Assembly of State Parties or to the Security Council for action.
Withdrawal from ICC
In February, the South African government wrote to the United Nations of its intention to withdraw from the ICC. It argued that the court has unfairly targeted African leaders to bring about regime changes.
However, a South African court nullified the request earlier this month, terming it “unconstitutional.”
Part of Wednesday’s court order requires South Africa to immediately revoke its recent request to pull out of the ICC.
In a bid to comply with that order, the South African government issued a statement also on Wednesday, canceling its request to leave the ICC, according to the BBC.
South Africa is just one of many African countries that have already expressed their intention to withdraw from the international court.
In January, during the annual African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, African leaders unanimously approved a non-binding proposal for the whole of Africa to leave the ICC.