ACDP MP and member of the Justice and Correctional Services Portfolio Committee, Steven Swart, on Tuesday (March 15, 2016) welcomed the Supreme Court of Appeal’s judgment dismissing government’s appeal and finding that its failure to arrest Sudanese President, Omar Al Bashir, was unlawful.
Bashir whose regime is implicated in extensive persecution of Christians faces charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity arising out of the conflict in Darfur flew out of South Africa’s Waterkloof Air base in June last year despite an order for his arrest issued by the North Gauteng High Court. Bashir was in SA for the African Union Summit.
In a media statement, Swart says: “The ACDP welcomes today’s Supreme Court of Appeal judgment dismissing government’s appeal and finding that its failure to arrest Sudanese President, Omar Al Bashir, was unlawful.
Rule of law
In a democracy, there are few things as important as the rule of law. Our Constitution recognises this, by naming “supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law” as a founding provision, right at the beginning, in section one.
Everything else in the Constitution, and therefore in the rest of the law, flows from this and depends on it. In the absence of the rule of law we are left at the mercy of arbitrary, capricious and unaccountable rule. Today, the judiciary has shown itself once again to be independent, responsive and unafraid to reach a decision which it must have known would be unpopular with government.
This judgment also highlights that government cannot ignore its obligations under international law; to act in violation of the Constitution; and to display contempt for the High Court – all of which, by allowing President Al Bashir to leave, and perhaps actually assisting him to do so, it did.
The Court described government’s explanation for how the Sudanese President left the Country, seemingly unnoticeable, as “simply risible”. Any flight from Waterkloof Air base cannot take place without government knowledge. The Court also found that either government or its counsel set out to mislead the High Court as to the whereabouts of Al Bashir, saying either way, it was “disgraceful conduct”.
The ACDP understands that government is considering appealing this decision to the Constitutional Court. This would, in our view, be a waste of taxpayers money, given the hard-hitting and legally-sound judgment by the Supreme Court of Appeal.”