Cape Town - The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on Friday said government had a moral and legal duty to ensure it joins legal efforts to help stamp out crimes against humanity across the world and on the continent.

The commission was referring to a ruling by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Thursday which found South Africa had violated the Rome Statute by failing to heed a request by the Hague to arrest and surrender Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for trial for crimes against humanity.

"South Africa’s decision to ratify the Rome Statute and to subject itself to the jurisdiction of the ICC was informed by the fact that the ICC is the only permanent criminal court in the world to provide justice to perpetrators of international crimes," the SAHRC said in a statement.

"In ratifying the convention, the government committed the country to respect to the principles of the centrality of human rights in international relations, to the primacy of access to justice and respect for international law, and to the peaceful resolution of conflicts."

The commission went on to point out that Parliament had ratified the Rome Statute in compliance with the Constitution in 2002, saying it was "binding and must be enforced".

"The country’s commitment to the above principles is further informed by its history of crimes against humanity committed by the Apartheid government against the majority of South Africans. South Africa thus has a moral and legal duty to ensure the protection of the rule of law and to contribute to global efforts aimed at ensuring that similar crimes against humanity do not play out in other countries in the world, especially on our continent."

African News Agency