South African court rules against ICC withdrawal

Author

23 February, 2017

In 2016, Burundi, South Africa and The Gambia, expressed their intentions to withdraw from the court.

The court also ordered that the government should pay the DA's costs. "South Africa does not want to be lumped together with pariah states who have no respect for human rights", the Democratic Alliance said.

"We would like South Africa to stay in the ICC because we believe that it is consistent with our constitution and with the legacy of Nelson Mandela", he added.

Victims' only hope for justice is to be heard in court, he said, and urged the Kenyan government to support the court and embrace an global justice system, according to a Hivisasa report.

Opposition party Democratic Alliance, which took the government to court, argued that Minister Michael Masutha acted unlawfully by announcing the withdrawal without seeking parliamentary approval.

He said the government would decide on how to proceed, including a possible appeal, after reading the full judgment.

South Africa was a founding member of the ICC, which prosecutes perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Rather than leave the ICC - a court South Africa played a key role in creating - they should use this opportunity to reaffirm support for it.

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South Africa announced in October that it would be pulling out of the court following a dispute over the failure to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who visited the country in 2015 despite an arrest warrant from the ICC over alleged war crimes.

South Africa said it was quitting the ICC because membership conflicted with diplomatic immunity laws.

The DA contended that parliament's approval was required before the notice could be delivered to the UN. However, the court's ruling could mean a significant delay in the process, and some legal experts speculate that the government might consider dropping its withdrawal plan ahead of the next presidential elections in 2019.

The judgment will compel South African officials, as they move to comply with the court's decision, to reflect and reconsider the withdrawal notice.

The court has repeatedly been criticised by African states as an inefficient, neo-colonial institution of the Western powers to try African countries.

South Africa is now out of step with other progressive and democratic African countries who have reaffirmed their commitment to the ICC.


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