SA's decision to withdraw from ICC comes 4 weeks before al Bashir court case

Justice Minister Michael Masutha has announced that the South African government will soon pull out of the Rome Statute, the legal instrument that set up the International Criminal Court.

Government will also withdraw its Constitutional Court appeal of the High Court ruling which found it was obligated to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

EWN reporter Barry Bateman, says Minister Masutha stated the court ruling by the ICC which obligated South Africa to arrest and handover Omar al Bashir raises issues in South African law.

The primary reason for government is that the Rome Statute and the obligation it bases on South Africa are obstructed it its international relations particularly in countries where there is conflict.

Barry Bateman, EWN reporter

He says while the country confirms the immunity that is inferred on international heads of states, the implementation of Rome statute overwrites that.

The Rome Statute is a hindrance for the country to engage in international relations, says Masutha.

Professor John Stremlau, International Relations at WITS says he is saddened by this announcement because South Africa played a big role in launching this enterprise.

He says he is aware of the criticism that the ICC is only focused on cases in Africa but there is a good justification for each case to be prosecuted.

Seems South Africa is racing to the bottom now and wants to be identified with the moral regressive forces of the continent.

Professor John Stremlau, International Relations at WITS

There was a time not long ago when it was with progressive and democratic forces on the continent.

Professor John Stremlau, International Relations at WITS

The outhern African Litigation Centre, that first approached the High Court in Pretoria when al Bashir was in the country, says it is shocked to hear that South Africa is pulling out of the ICC.

Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, Executive Director at the Southern African Litigation Centre says they were very surprised by this announcement just four weeks before the matter is due to be heard.

If this is a government decision we have no objection to them from withdrawing from the constitutional hearing.

Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, Executive Director Southern African Litigation Centre

Ramjathan-Keogh says the decision taken by the Supreme Court earlier in the year would be the position in law.

Listen to Barry Bateman reporting live from Tshwane, Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh and John Stremlau below:


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