South Africa asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) for more time to explain why it allowed Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to evade an arrest warrant and leave the country when he visited in June during the African Union (AU) Summit of Heads of State. In its submission to the ICC, through the Department of International Relations And Cooperation, the government says: “South Africa has now approached the Court for more time to respond to this request. This was done in view of the complex and conflicting legal principles involved, both in international and in South African domestic law, and the fact that the South African domestic courts are still seized with the matter. South Africa will therefore approach the Secretariat of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Rome Statute, the political body of the ICC, to ensure that discussions take place during the ASP meeting to be held in The Hague from 18 to 26 November 2015, on the rules and procedures that must be developed to ensure clarity on the Article 97 consultation process and on the interpretation of Article 98, dealing with the complex issues around the immunities of serving Heads of State and Government of States which are not parties to the Rome Statute, like Sudan.” The Pre-Trial Chamber II of the ICC had ordered South Africa to state why it should not be referred to the Assembly of State Parties for failing to arrest and surrender President Omar Bashir during the 25th African Union Summit. Judges of the Pretoria High Court had issued an interim order stopping Sudan’s leader Omar al-Bashir from leaving the country. However, the country breached it forcing the court to urge prosecutors to consider criminal charges over the government’s failure to prevent his departure.
Luke Moffet, Lecturer School of Law, at the Queen’s University Belfast says, “ICC can’t back down here, it’s not racism or sovereignty issue, it is a victim and African one to prevent crimes from recurring.”