ANC wants SA to withdraw from ICC

Johannesburg - The ANC wants South Africa to begin the process of withdrawing from the International Criminal Court (ICC) because it believes the ICC has lost its direction, the party's international relations subcommittee chairperson Obed Bapela said on Sunday.

"The principles that led us to be members [of the ICC] remain valid and relevant... however the ICC has lost its direction unfortunately and is no longer pursuing that principle of an instrument that is fair for everybody," Bapela told reporters during a briefing in Midrand where the African National Congress is holding its National General Council meeting.

There were a handful of powerful countries which refused to be ICC members, yet they still had the power to refer matters to the court, Bapela said.

This decision was not selfish and South Africa would continue to carry the flag of human rights and an end to genocide, he said.

African agenda

"We will always carry the African agenda...understanding that we are in a world where others trample on some of the issues that we stand for.

"South Africa still holds the flag of human rights, we are not lowering it, we will continuously hold it high."

He said however, that South Africa had thrown its weight into participating in the international sphere, yet some nations only served their own selfish interests.

"They would rather put their own interests first than the world's interests, and as a result of that the commission and the NGC has just confirmed that the national interest policy must be fast-tracked in Parliament so that the nation can comment on it."

ANC Women's League treasurer-general and International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told reporters the withdrawal process would not be a quick one.

The matter was already on the agenda for the upcoming Assembly of State Parties meeting which would be attended by all ICC members in November. It would also be tabled at the African Union summit to be held in January, she said.

Bashir arrest warrant

On June 15, the High Court had ordered the South African government to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he was in Johannesburg for an African Union summit - but despite the court order, he left the country.

The ICC had issued a warrant of arrest for Bashir, wanting him to stand trial on charges of war crimes and genocide.

The High Court ruled that government had acted unconstitutionally when it did not arrest him.

Three judges of the High Court in Pretoria ruled last month that the Implementation Act did not give heads of state immunity from prosecution on criminal charges.

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