ICC exit disregards rule of law - Freedom Under Law

2016-10-21 20:19


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Johannesburg – The South African government’s decision to exit the ICC shows it is increasingly contemptuous of, and brazen in its disregard for, the rule of law, Freedom Under Law said on Friday.

“There can be no lawful purported withdrawal from the Rome Statute of the ICC, while the Implementation Act is in force,” executive officer at Freedom Under Law, Nicole Fritz, said in a statement.

The act ensures implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in South Africa, and provides for South Africa to prosecute people accused of committing war crimes, genocide, or crimes against humanity within and outside the country’s borders. It is intended to ensure that South Africa arrests such people and hands them over to the ICC, and that it co-operates with the court.

Fritz said it was not merely an international treaty, but South Africa’s own democratically-enacted law: the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act 27 of 2002.

Justice Minister Michael Masutha said on Friday that the government's reason for removing itself as a signatory to the Rome Statute was due to a conflict between its obligations to the African Union to grant its heads of state immunity, and its obligations to the ICC.

In June last year, the High Court in Pretoria ordered the government to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir while he was in the country for a two-day AU summit.

The ICC had issued warrants for his arrest, to put him on trial on charges of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity committed in his country.

The court said the government’s failure to arrest him was unconstitutional. Al-Bashir was allowed to leave the country before the order was handed down.

Masutha said South Africa had notified the United Nations of its intention and would have to wait for a year before the withdrawal took effect.

South Africa was the second African country to withdraw this week, following Burundi.

Fritz said International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane acted unlawfully and unconstitutionally in notifying the United Nations of South Africa’s intention to withdraw from the ICC.

She said in March this year, the Supreme Court of Appeal made clear the obligations South Africa had assumed in adopting the Implementation Act. The law kept South Africa at the vanguard of attempts to prevent international crimes, the court said.

Read more on:    anc  |  icc  |  omar al bashir

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