In the recent past, our country has been thrown into a legal political crisis following the entry and exit made by the President Al-Bashir of Sudan in and out of South Africa. Understandably, South Africa was thrown into an international turmoil ever seen since our readmission into the league of world politics.
There are those who felt that South Africa did well by defying the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s protocol as it was expected that they will arrest Al-Bashir for war crimes committed in Sudan. Similarly, there are those who felt South Africa acted badly by not honouring its own commitment to the promotion of the rule of law and protection of human rights record. Either way, South Africa had a crisis to handle and whether it was handled properly or shabbily depends on where one stands.
My take on this one is that whether Al-Bashir committed war crimes or not is for the courts, both in his country and abroad, to handle. In this case, he has to be provided with a platform to prove his innocence or guilt. Such opportunity must never be denied to anyone because then people will live with labels of guilt or innocence as judged by the public opinion.
The insinuation that ICC is perceived to be biased against African sitting President is neither here nor there. Let it prove itself to be unworthy of our trust as South Africans. Justice delayed in justice denied.
Secondly, South Africa shouldn’t leave the world with an impression that it can violate its own commitments, either domestic or international. We have laws governing our sovereignty and such must be applied with fear or favour. So many South Africans languish in jail for all sorts of law violation and yet our leadership finds it doable to evade the law in favour of politics. It is wrong for the South African government to ignore or violate domestic court orders in order to protect friends who are suspects in certain heinous crimes.
Imagine if we were to begin holding our court judgements in contempt arguing the precedence set by our own government. Leaders have to be very careful when applying standards never to put the country in jeopardy in the future.
That ICC is unrealiable and biased against Africa is a subject on its own. It can be discussed and once we come to a conclusion that satisfies us, we can either pull out or remain in there to transform the court from within. Why is it that our leaders like institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) even when we know they are the ones destroying Africa through their structural adjustment programmes. Why can’t they equally pull out? They can’t because this is where their bread gets buttered at the expense of unsuspecting African majority.
My conclusion is that South erred by violating its own court judgements against Al-Bashir.