In a judgment in July, the Pre-trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) confronted the vexed legal question of immunity for heads of state who are alleged to have committed international crimes. It did so in a case involving SA’s failure to arrest President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan when he attended the AU heads of government summit meeting in Johannesburg in June 2015. While Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut wrote a separate opinion, the three-member chamber reached the unanimous conclusion that SA had failed to comply with the request that had been issued by the ICC to arrest Bashir for serious crimes allegedly committed in the Darfur region of Sudan. The Pre-trial chamber found that state parties to the Rome Statute, such as SA, are required to arrest and surrender Bashir to the ICC where he is found in their territory. The judgment comes at a fraught political time for the ICC and its relationship with African states and the AU. The concern of African state parties (...

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