Zuma: SA doesn’t support impunity despite ICC move

2013-10-14 15:36

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President Jacob Zuma said the African Union decision that sitting heads of state should not be prosecuted did not mean that South Africa supported impunity for errant leaders.

Speaking at a press conference at the Union Buildings following a meeting with visiting French president Francois Hollande, Zuma stressed the AU’s decision at its special summit over the weekend came about because of the Kenyan case.

He said the ICC’s insistence that both Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto should attend their full trials meant that the Kenyan state would “collapse”.

Zuma said the original agreement was that Kenyatta and Ruto would only be there for the beginning and end of their trials, and that they would be represented by their lawyers for the duration of the proceedings.

But this was overturned on appeal by human rights organisations, Zuma explained.

According to the Kenya Constitution, both the president and his deputy cannot be out of the country at the same time.

“The decision of the African Union isn’t to say we want impunity, but we can’t have a decision of the court collapse a country,” he said.

In the run-up to the weekend AU summit in Addis Ababa, Kenya campaigned for African states to support a proposal to withdraw from the ICC.

Zuma, however, met with Kenyatta on Saturday morning, before the summit by heads of states, to explain South Africa’s position to him, a government official told City Press.

“We are not against impunity, that is why we are both (SA and France) signatories to the ICC. In no way will we support action that gives space for impunity,” Zuma explained today.

Hollande, however, warned at today’s briefing that France could not accept impunity or immunity for sitting leaders, but added that the process should observe the “principles of international justice”.

He said France would discuss the matter with its partners “and try to strike the right balance in the ICC”.

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