South African Deputy Minister, Obed Bapela announced on Sunday that the country intends to pull out of the International Criminal Court (ICC), amid rising concern that the behaviour of the court has been biased against African countries.
South Africa's governing party has agreed to withdraw from the ICC, with Bapela claiming that powerful nations "trample" human rights and pursue "selfish interests."
The ICC has "lost its direction" and the governing African National Congress (ANC) desires to pull the South African nation out of the court after following certain processes, he told reporters.
A number of members of the ANC strongly feel that the court disproportionately targets African leaders, while disregarding many human rights violations committed by both the United States and Israel.
Earlier this year, South Africa foreshadowed its intentions of pulling out of the ICC, after it permitted the Sudanese President, Omar Hassan al Bashir to leave the country after coming in for a meeting of the African Union (AU) in Johannesburg, despite a court order to detain him.
President Bashir had been charged by the ICC of committing genocide and war crimes and the court had issued an order to detain him.
South Africa’s refusal to abide by the ICC’s court order, flared an outburst inside and outside the country.
"South Africa still holds the flag of human rights, we are not lowering it," Bapela said, adding that the parliament will now begin debating the matter of the ICC membership withdrawal.
“We are not going to use the AU as a platform to arrest leaders,” he said, claiming that the rising international criticism of South Africa’s actions towards President Bashir demonstrated a “contempt for the continent.”
South Africa’s departure from the ICC is rooted in a much deeper history.
In June 2015, in a column for South Africa’s Sunday Independent, memoirist Malaika wa Azania wrote that “Its application of law is not only atrocious, given the flawed processes that it employs; it is also selective and clearly targeted towards African and Arab leaders.”
In 2013, many member states of the AU threatened to leave the ICC, due to accusations brought against Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta. He was charged of fueling violence amid the 2007 presidential elections, which led to the death of more than 1,000 people.
The charges against Kenyatta have since been dropped.