Government in need of moral turnaround - Solidarity

2017-03-09 20:12
Assembly of States Parties (ICC) meeting in The Hague city in the Netherlands. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Assembly of States Parties (ICC) meeting in The Hague city in the Netherlands. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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Johannesburg - Trade union Solidarity says the government needs to "reassess its moral direction" after it revoked its intent to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) this week.

Solidarity Research Institute political analyst Dr Eugene Brink on Thursday said the 2015 debacle involving Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was indicative of the government's contempt for the courts.

A senior government official on Wednesday confirmed that a letter to the United Nations, dated March 7, was sent by the South African government citing the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria judgment from February 22, in the case between the Democratic Alliance and the executive, as its reason for the reversal.

Brink said Al-Bashir was "a man with the blood of thousands upon thousands of people on his hands".

"The government disregarded the court's ruling and did not extradite him, and then it simply went ahead with the unlawful process to withdraw," he said.

Brink said it was encouraging that, in its attempt to withdraw from the ICC, the government encountered opposition from the courts, the media, opposition parties and civil society.

Long-lasting blemish

"It is regrettable that, although the government underestimated the extent of the opposition it would encounter, it nonetheless decided to go ahead and withdraw from the ICC unlawfully."

According to Brink, this episode was one of many that would leave a long-lasting blemish on the African National Congress' reputation.

"The fact that the courts had to be used once again to stop the ANC government under the leadership of President [Jacob] Zuma from taking unlawful action is a sad reality," he said.

On October 21, 2016, 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 had violated the law by not arresting Al-Bashir during his visit to SA for an African Union summit in June 2016.

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

Read more on:    solidarity  |  da  |  icc

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