Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir File photo: Ali Ngethi/AP

Johannesburg - The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) says it welcomes the International Criminal Court (ICC) finding that two years ago South Africa failed to comply with its international obligations by refusing to arrest visiting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir who is wanted for crimes against humanity.

On Thursday the ICC pre-trial chamber ruled that South Africa should have executed the arrest warrant against al-Bashir when he visited the country in June 2015 to attend an African Union meeting, Reasons advanced by South Africa for not arresting the Sudanese leader were rejected by the ICC, but it did not mete out any sanctions for the contravention.

In a statement late on Thursday, IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa said: “It was never in any doubt that South Africa acted in defiant breach of it international obligations when it refused to exercise an existing ICC arrest warrant for al-Bashir. In fact, South Africa went one step further and provided extra assistance to Bashir to evade the warrant by allowing him to leave the country expeditiously via Waterkloof Air Force base”.

Hlengwa added: “South Africa’s failure to comply with its obligations in not arresting al-Bashir additionally sends an extremely worrying message to the rest of the Continent. A message which may be interpreted as one of the South African government condoning human rights atrocities on the continent".

The IFP MP said the breach was not the first. Hlengwa said in the past South Africa had turned a blind eye on human rights abuses reportedly perpetrated against Tibetans in Tibet by China.

“The South African government in not arresting al-Bashir, failed to uphold the founding values of its own constitution as well as its obligations in terms of the Rome Statute. The act of allowing Bashir to flee has brought shame on this government and shame on this country. Cry the beloved country,”  said Hlengwa.