S. Africa to quit International Criminal Court

Decision follows 2015 row over South African visit by Sudanese president sought by ICC on war crimes charges

S. Africa to quit International Criminal Court

World Bulletin / News Desk

South Africa’s justice minister confirmed Friday his country had begun a formal process to withdraw from The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC).

Addressing reporters in Pretoria, Michael Masutha said South Africa formally submitted a written notice to the United Nations Secretary-General about its intention to leave the international court.

“The withdrawal will take one year after the Secretary-General receives the notification,” Masutha said.

Masutha said the Rome Statute which formed the ICC is in conflict with South Africa’s Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act which protects diplomats and other visiting officials from being arrested.

Last year, a high court in South Africa issued an interim order stopping Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir from leaving the country when he visited to attend the 25th African Union Summit.

Bashir is accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan's Darfur region.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant against the Sudanese leader in 2009. He is supposed to be arrested by countries which subscribe to the Rome Statue.

Pretoria High Court Judge Hans Fabricius issued the order after the Southern Africa Litigation Centre submitted an application calling for the arrest of the Sudanese leader.

However, the South African government did not stop Bashir from leaving after the summit, arguing he enjoyed diplomatic immunity and was a guest of the African Union not the state.

The court later ruled that the government’s failure to arrest Bashir was inconsistent with its constitutional obligations.

After the Bashir debacle, South Africa’s cabinet warned in June last year it would review its membership of the ICC.

Masutha told reporters on Friday that despite a decision to leave the ICC, South Africa remained committed to the fight against impunity and stood behind the promotion of human rights across the continent.

“South Africa will work together with the African Union to strengthen regional bodies,” he said, adding: “The continent is in the process of strengthening its regional bodies that aim at promoting human rights and [the] rule of law”

Burundi also announced this month it was leaving The Hague-based court. Several African leaders previously accused the ICC of deliberately targeting Africans, a claim that the body denies.

 
Last Mod: 21 Ekim 2016, 14:28
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