The South African government acted unlawfully by failing to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes when he visited the country in 2015, the Supreme Court of Appeals said on Tuesday.
Al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes in the Darfur region, was allowed to leave the country during an AU summit in Johannesburg.
However, the Supreme Court of Appeals in Pretoria, was considering whether the government should arrest him then.
The ruling by Judge Visvanathan Ponnan found that the government’s decision was inconsistent with South Africa’s treaty obligations with regards to the ICC and therefore unlawful.
The ICC, based in The Hague, issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir over alleged war crimes in Darfur, where the government has been fighting rebels since 2003.
It has asked South Africa to explain why it did not arrest al-Bashir.
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress said 2015 it wanted the country to leave the ICC, which it believed has lost its direction.
The UN estimated that 300,000 people have died in Darfur due to the violence and related starvation and disease during the past decade. (dpa/NAN)