South Africa’s Disgraceful Help for President Bashir of Sudan

Omar al-Bashir
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir

On Monday, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan fled arrest in South Africa and is now safely back in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital. His escape is another blow to the International Criminal Court, which has been struggling to bring him to trial for six years on charges of crimes against humanity and genocide.


This could not have happened without the complicity of the South African government, which deserves international condemnation. The biggest losers are the innocent victims of Mr. Bashir’s cruel policies in Darfur who are still being denied justice

Members of the international court like South Africa are supposed to respect its warrants. The charges against Mr. Bashir include murder, acts of extermination and rape among other abuses in Darfur, where 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced since 2003.


The court has been unable to enforce its writ partly because of opposition in Sudan and partly because some African governments believe the court has unfairly focused on African leaders. The court asked the United Nations Security Council in March to help it enforce the warrant for Mr. Bashir, he apparently felt he could travel safely to Johannesburg to attend an African Union summit meeting because the South African government insisted he had immunity .


The one principled actor in this sordid affair is the South African High Court, which, on Sunday, ordered authorities to prevent Mr. Bashir from leaving the country. After Mr. Bashir’s private jet was allowed to take off from a military airport near Pretoria, the court accused the government of violating its order and the country’s Constitution. The court has also ordered the government to explain itself. Whatever its answer, the government has clearly defied the country’s highest court and should be held accountable in some way. South Africa cannot help but compromise its leadership position in Africa if it insists on reneging on its international commitments and protecting ruthless leaders accused of war crimes.


Despite his escape, Mr. Bashir’s world is shrinking. In recent years, he has been unable to travel to Indonesia, Malawi, Botswana, Turkey and Malaysia either because he fears arrest or because eaders made clear he was not welcome. Human rights groups have become increasingly vigorous in demanding his arrest. At some pont he may even have to think twice about visiting South Africa.



  1. What disgraceful huh? ICC or whatever its called is so biased and its really a shame that you are siding with them. George Bush, Tony Blair to mention but a few aint persecuted, why?