ICC judgment in al-Bashir case a victory for international justice

The ICJ welcomed today’s judgment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) that South Africa had violated its legal obligations by failing to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during his visit to the country in June 2015.

The ICC said the South Africa should have surrendered him to the ICC for prosecution.

President al-Bashir (photo) had been indicted by the ICC for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in connection with attacks against civilians in the Darfur region of the country.

“The judgment is a victory for international justice. It is an extremely important step toward tackling impunity in Sudan and worldwide,” said Arnold Tsunga, the ICJ Africa Regional Director.

The court said unequivocally that South Africa had a duty to arrest and surrender president Bashir to the ICC for prosecution.

It said that South Africa had a duty to recognize that head of state immunity did not apply to al Bahsir under the terms of the Rome Statute, and that leaving the question of immunity to South Africa’s voluntary discretion would have created “an insurmountable obstacle for the court to exercise its jurisdiction.”

The Court also said that Sudan itself had an obligation to remove and immunities for al-Bashir in respect to matters for which he was under indictment.

“The ICJ calls upon the Governments of South Africa and Sudan to respect the judgment of the Court, and urges all States to cooperate with the Court to bring President al-Bashir, and others indicted to justice,” Tsunga added.

The ICC also called on the UN Security and the Assembly of States Parties of the ICC to take appropriate measures to address the non-compliance by South Africa and Sudan.


South Africa has been a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court since 27 November 2000.

States parties to the Rome Statute are obliged to cooperate with ICC, including by arresting and surrendering persons under indictment by the ICC who may be on their territory.

South Africa took measures to cooperate with the ICC by enacting the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act, 2002.

Accordingly, South Africa had a duty to arrest President al-Bashir when he visited South Africa in 2015

President al-Bashir stands accused of serious crimes, with two warrants of arrest issued by the pre-trial chamber of the ICC.

They all are for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, related to events in the Darfur region of Sudan.

Among the acts are widespread murder, rape and torture.

Read also:
South Africa appears before ICC for failure to arrest Sudanese President Bashir – The ICJ observes the hearing


Arnold Tsunga, ICJ Director for Africa, t +27716405926 ;

Thulani Maseko, ICJ Legal consultant, t: +268 7602 5165

Ian Seiderman, ICJ Legal & Policy Director, t: +41 22 979 3837

NewsPress releases