DA vindicated by ICC judgment

2017-02-22 17:54
James Selfe. (File)

James Selfe. (File) (Tshidi Madia)

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Pretoria - The Democratic Alliance has been vindicated by the High Court in Pretoria’s ruling that revokes government's decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC), DA chairperson James Selfe told journalists on Wednesday.

"We are delighted with this judgment; we believed all along the decision to withdraw from the ICC is irrational and unconstitutional. We have been vindicated by the court," he said.

Selfe said it was clear from the court's judgment that the withdrawal was hasty. He said the decision to withdraw from the ICC, which sits in The Hague in The Netherlands, had everything to do with the government's "embarrassment" when it lost two court cases surrounding its actions regarding Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir.

"They took the easy option which was simply to withdraw from the ICC...That in [itself] made the decision procedurally irrational."

The DA said it hoped that the government would reconsider its decision and instead come back to Parliament with a more considered approach.

"We really hope that this judgment does create breathing space for government to reconsider and perhaps to come up with a reasonable approach."

Withdrawal notice 'ignored law'

A full bench led by Deputy Judge President Phineas Mojapelo ordered the government to revoke its notice to withdraw with immediate effect.

The court ruled that the withdrawal was unconstitutional and invalid.

On October 21, Justice Minister Michael Masutha told reporters that SA had initiated the process of withdrawing from the ICC by notifying the UN of its intention to revoke its ratification of the Rome Statute, the ICC's founding treaty.

It would take a year for the decision to come into effect.

The decision followed several court judgments that the government violated the law by not arresting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during his visit to South Africa for an AU summit.

The ICC had issued warrants for his arrest and wanted him to stand trial on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Government to pay costs

Mojapelo said on Wednesday that the national executive's primary reasons for delivering the notice of withdrawal ignores the effect of the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act.

"It is domestic legislation which creates peremptory obligations which bind the State on their own terms, independent of its international obligations. In other words, South Africa's international law obligations are not dependent on the Rome Statute and vice versa," Mojapelo said.

Government previously argued that its role within the Rome Statute impedes its diplomatic and peacekeeping efforts on the continent, as it is then required to arrest sitting heads of state against whom the ICC has issued warrants of arrest.

Government said withdrawing from the Rome Statute would give it freedom to pursue its role as peacemaker on the continent without the obligation to arrest the indicted heads of state. It would be free to give immunity to such leaders.

The court also ordered that the government should pay the DA's costs.

Read more on:    da  |  icc  |  politics

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