The government of Botswana says it regrets the decision by the South African government to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Justice Minister Michael Masutha said SA government decided to remove itself as a signatory of the Rome Statute because it was in conflict with its obligations to the African Union (AU) to grant its heads of state immunity.
This decision followed a dispute last year when Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir visited the country for an African Union (AU) summit despite facing an ICC arrest warrant over alleged war crimes.
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court is the international treaty that founded the Court. The Statute sets out the Court’s jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and – as of an amendment in 2010 – the crime of aggression.
In addition to jurisdiction, it also addresses issues such as admissibility and applicable law, the composition and administration of the Court, investigations and prosecution, trials, penalties, appeal and revision, international cooperation and judicial assistance, and enforcement.
While South Africa stands the second country to announce its withdrawal from the international court after Burundi, Botswana stands as the first African country to condemn South Africa’s decision to leave the ICC insisting that the criminal court is an important institution in the international criminal justice system.
“Botswana is convinced that as the only permanent international criminal tribunal, the ICC is an important unique institution in the international criminal justice system. Botswana, therefore, wishes to reaffirm its membership of the Rome statute and reiterate its support for a strong international criminal justice system through the ICC,” the statement said.
— Lotte Leicht (@LotteLeicht1) October 26, 2016
The country’s ministry of foreign affairs confirmed that it had indeed released a statement that circulated on social media on Wednesday in which it “regretted” South Africa’s decision to withdraw from the Hague-based court.
“While Botswana fully respects the sovereign right of any country to become a party to, or to withdraw from any international instrument, the Government of Botswana nonetheless regrets that the Government of South Africa reached this decision,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, a scholar of International Relations, Oscar van Heerden said he is in support of SA’s withdrawal adding that the decision is for the good of the country.
Van Heerden went on to outline reasons why he backed the decision. His reasons include: “I recognize and abhor the duality that exists in the global international system to which the ICC contributes; ICC judges are not required to have a legal background, I don’t believe that justice should trump peace.
“The sooner we exit the ICC the better. It is time to reject the duality of the UNSC which finds expression, at least in part, through the ICC. It is now time to forge a new more equitable and fair international accountability and legal systems,” Van Heerden concluded.