Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir addresses top officials from his ruling National Congress Party (NCP) during a meeting on August 21, 2015 in the capital Khartoum, as he presses efforts to start talks to resolve Sudan's ailing economy and the conflicts on its peripheries. AFP PHOTO/ ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP / ASHRAF SHAZLY

DA considers court action against Zuma over al-Bashir matter

14:56 / 15 MAR 2016

JOHANNESBURG, 15 March (ANA) – The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Tuesday said it was considering initiating court action against President Jacob Zuma and his Cabinet over the controversial matter of Sudan President Omar al-Bashir’s visit to the country.

Reacting to the Supreme Court of Appeal ruling that found the SA government was in breach of the constitution when it failed to arrest wanted al-Bashir during his visit to the country, the DA said the matter had caused “international embarrassment”.

Al-Bashir, who visited South Africa in June to attend the African Union summit, is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity committed in his country. The ICC had asked South Africa to arrest Bashir, but the government declined saying he was a guest of the AU and was protected by immunity accorded to heads of state.

The Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC) took the matter to court and secured a ruling compelling the SA government to arrest al-Bashir, but instead the government allowed him to skip out of the country.

The SA government last month appealed the High Court’s ruling that its adoption of the Rome Statute legally obligated it to arrest al-Bashir once he entered the country.

The DA on Tuesday said is was embarrassing when “our government facilitated his fleeing of the jurisdiction despite domestic and international law prohibiting them from doing so”.

“In light of this scathing indictment on government; the DA will consider pursuing an order of contempt against President Zuma and his Cabinet members and others who aided and abetted the fleeing of an internationally wanted genocidal war lord,” said the DA in a statement attributed to Advocate Glynnis Breytenbach, the party’s shadow minister of justice.

“In doing so President Zuma as the custodian of our constitutional democracy, supported by his Cabinet Ministers, wilfully and flagrantly broke the law to protect a friend of Zuma despite a court order expressly prohibiting his leaving the country.

“This is the man who is at the very top of our constitutional democracy. Who instead of upholding the rule of law has decided to treat it with the utmost contempt and disdain and he must be brought to book.”