The President of Sudan was allowed to leave South Africa unmolested today, despite courts in the country ordering his arrest on a genocide warrant. The International Criminal Court, pursuing a case launched by the Security Council, issued warrants for Bashir’s arrest years ago. Yet he has roamed the globe with impunity.
Nonetheless, he has thus far avoided ICC members like South Africa. As a state party to the Rome Statute, South Africa has a treaty obligation to cooperate with the enforcement efforts of The Hague-based court. The order by the South African judge to seize Bashir generated a massive wave of excitement in the ever-optimistic international law community. But as I predicted, South Africa did not detain him, instead allowing him to return to Khartoum.
The free pass given to Bashir is another in a series of major blows to the credibility of the ICC – and in this case, the Security Council. If member states like South Africa do not take the Court seriously in cases that do not even involve its own nationals, it is hard to expect non-members to do so.
While refusing treaty obligations to arrest the world’s leading genocidaire – known of course for his campaign against black Africans in Darfur – might seem unconscionable, Bashir has his defenders.
Among them is Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who vocally opposes the ICC process against Bashir. “We must also take a decisive stance of solidarity alongside fraternal Sudan and President Omar al-Bashir,” Abbas has said. He has has also expressed his “solidarity” with the Sudanese despot, and categorically rejected enforcement of the ICC warrant...