Monday, 15 June 2015

Bid by Omar al-Bashir of #Sudan to Avoid Arrest is Tested in South #Africa

As the only head of state wanted by the International Criminal Court on genocide charges, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan had spent years looking over his shoulder. He avoided countries where the risk of arrest seemed high. He visited friendly African nations hostile to the court, though he sometimes quickly left for home when the ground seemed to shift.

But on Sunday, Mr. Bashir found himself unable to leave South Africa, which he was visiting to attend an African Union summit meeting in Johannesburg. A South African High Court ordered the government to prevent Mr. Bashir from departing until it issues a ruling Monday on whether the government is required to arrest him and hand him over to the international court.

In the six years since the Sudanese leader was indicted, it is the closest the International Criminal Court has come to arresting Mr. Bashir. His fate over the next few days could determine the court’s own long-term relevance and influence the behavior of his fellow African leaders, many of whom have rallied around him against the court.

The court, in The Hague, forcefully called on South Africa to arrest Mr. Bashir, who is suspected of having ordered atrocities in the conflict in the western Sudanese region of Darfur. It demanded that South Africa, a member state of the international court, “spare no effort in ensuring the execution of the arrest warrants” issued by the court against Mr. Bashir.

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