Parliament still to debate ICC withdrawal - lawyer

2016-12-06 12:13
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Pretoria – The DA approached the courts to challenge the government’s withdrawal from the ICC before it had been debated in Parliament, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Tuesday.

"The DA rushed without pausing and reflecting on the facts. It was clear the notice to withdraw was being taken to Parliament," Jeremy Gauntlett, for President Jacob Zuma and the ministers of justice and international relations told the court.

Gauntlett was responding to the DA's and civil rights groups' challenge of the executive's decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute.

The DA argued on Monday that the government's decision to unbind itself from the ICC was unconstitutional and needed Parliament’s approval.

Gauntlett however told the court the executive had the intention of debating the notice to exit the ICC in Parliament.

Parliamentary process

He said the DA’s premise of a "palpable effort to bypass parliamentary processes" was not factual and unsound.

He argued against the claim that government had already withdrawn from the ICC.

"The notice to withdraw has no immediate effect. The minister of justice said we are going to reassess in Parliament."

The parliamentary process would take place before the withdrawal took effect in October next year.

Last month, the Constitutional Court dismissed the DA's application for direct access to challenge the decision.

On October 21, Justice Minister Michael Masutha told reporters that South Africa had initiated the process of withdrawing from the ICC by notifying the United Nations of its intention to revoke its ratification of the Rome Statute.

The decision followed several court judgments that the government violated the law by not arresting ICC-indicted Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir during his visit to South Africa in June last year.

Read more on:    da  |  icc  |  pretoria  |  human rights  |  politics

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