South Africa to withdraw from International Criminal Court

The decision comes amid concerns that the global court targets only African people.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

South Africa faced harsh criticism after Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir’s visit to the country, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

South Africa has decided to withdraw from the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) because the court's rules are "in conflict and inconsistent with'' the country's diplomatic immunity law, South African Justice Minister Michael Masutha said on Friday.

South Africa said a year ago that it planned to leave the ICC after its government was criticised for ignoring a court order to arrest Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, who is accused of genocide and war crimes, when he visited in June last year.

Masutha said a bill to repeal South Africa's adoption of the ICC's Rome Statute would soon be brought to the parliament.

"A difficult choice had to be made," Masutha said at a news conference.

South Africa’s decision came over growing concerns about the court's credibility. African countries have accused the ICC of unfairly targeting Africans, saying only African people have been convicted in ICC trials so far.

However, local media published a leaked document on Thursday which was signed by South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

"The Republic of South Africa has found that its obligations with respect to the peaceful resolution of conflicts at times are incompatible with the interpretation given by the International Criminal Court," said the official document which is also seen by Reuters news agency.

The proposed move will make South Africa the second country to withdraw from the global court after Burundi.

However, the rights groups are sceptical In addition, Human Rights Watch highlighted the possible impact of the decision for the region.

United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said he was "not confirming at this point" whether UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had received an official document from South Africa.

"In complex and multi-faceted peace negotiations and sensitive post-conflict situations, peace and justice must be viewed as complementary and not mutually exclusive." the document said.

TRTWorld and agencies