Report has it that South Africa is about to finalize plans to finally leave the International Criminal Court (ICC)‚ in a move that critics have said will not bode well for the rule of law.
An instrument for withdrawal emerged on Friday which was popularly said to be sent by International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane notifying the United Nations of the country’s intention to withdraw from the Rome Statute.
The SA government sent its decision to leave the court which was established by Rome status on the claim that the court has been bias against African Nations.
SA’s intention to leave started when the government was defending its failure to take steps to detain Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during his visit to SA in June 2015‚ when there was an ICC warrant for his arrest‚ and despite a High Court ruling that it do so.
Though it’s not yet clear if the state parliament has approved of this decision and though it’s not yet clear if the government has the authority to unilaterally withdraw, SA’s withdrawing would mean the country will no longer be bound to the International Criminal Court
In the letter‚ Mashabane wrote that SA “has found its obligations with respect to the peaceful resolution of conflicts at times are incompatible with the interpretation given by the ICC of obligations contained in the Rome Statute”.
International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane who was also committed to fighting impunity and to bring those who commit atrocities and international crimes to justice” said:
“In complex and multifaceted peace negotiations and sensitive post-conflict situations‚ peace and justice must be viewed as complementary and not mutually exclusive”.
South Africa’s withdrawal will take effect a year after the United Nations Secretary General receives notification from government.
Meanwhile, the proposed plan by state government to withdraw has been largely criticized by civil bodies some who claim its a move masterminded by the ruling ANC which could spark clash with the Constitution
Daily maverick also noted that has been challenged by civil society organisations, and is due to be heard in Constitutional Court in November. It must be emphasized that this case will be heard according to the law as it applied at the time, making South Africa’s current status with regards to the ICC irrelevant.
It said civil society groups are also planning to challenge South Africa’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute. There is conflicting legal advice over whether South Africa requires parliamentary approval to do so, or whether it can withdraw from international treaties by executive action.
South Africa would be the second to leave the ICC after Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza signed legislation to make his country the first to withdraw from the ICC, which had said it would investigate recent political violence there.