PRETORIA – South Africa is losing its moral standing on the global front, and could soon be regarded as a rogue nation, an Institute for Security Studies seminar on the implications of the Omar al-Bashir saga heard on Thursday.
Howard Varney, a senior consultant at the International Centre for Transitional Justice, and deputy justice minister John Jeffery debated the implications of the Sudanese President’s controversial departure from South Africa during the 25th African Union summit that took place in Cape Town in June. South African authorities failed to detain al-Bashir despite an International Criminal Court warrant of arrest against him.
“Sadly, I don’t believe South Africa enjoys the standing and respect it used to have when it comes to the question of our law in international affairs in particular the international criminal justice,” Varney said.
“In fact…I think we might become seen as a problem state and if we carry on in this route of being party to treaties which we simply treat with contempt we are well on the way to becoming a rogue state.”
He said the affidavit filed by the state, explaining the reasons why Al-Bashir managed to leave Pretoria despite an interim high court order barring his exit from the country, showed that government prioritized politics over the law.
Jeffery said had Bashir been arrested by South African authorities, there would have been “severe consequences”.
“When George Bush was president and he came here, if somebody wanted to arrest him under the Convention Against Torture, I don’t think the Americans would have sat by and allowed their president to be arrested,” Jeffrey said. – ANA