South Africa opposition challenges decision to quit ICC

Democratic Alliance says government did not debate the issue inside the parliament

South Africa opposition challenges decision to quit ICC

World Bulletin / News Desk

South Africa’s main opposition party Democratic Alliance has challenged the government’s decision to withdraw from The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) in the country’s Constitutional Court.

“We filed an application this morning to challenge the constitutionality of the notice initiating South Africa’s withdraw from the ICC,” the alliance’s spokesman, Mabine Seabe said.

He said his party wanted the court to set aside the government’s decision to withdraw from the ICC because the matter had not been debated inside the parliament.

Justice Minister Michael Masutha announced Friday his country had begun a formal process to withdraw from the ICC.

Masutha said the Rome Statute conflicted with South Africa’s Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act, which offers protection to diplomats and other visiting officials from getting arrested.

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said the government’s decision was at odds with the country’s commitment to international justice and human rights.

“The withdrawal from the ICC is the ultimate betrayal of our historic commitment to a human rights-based foreign policy,” Maimane said in a statement late Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Watch said Monday South Africa’s announcement to withdraw from the ICC represented an enormous blow to its commitment to justice.

“South Africa’s withdrawal would be a huge reversal of its role as a leader promoting victims’ rights and the values in its post-apartheid constitution,” Richard Dicker, the watchdog’s international justice director, said in a statement.

South Africa’s decision to withdraw follows a 2015 row over the visit of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to South Africa despite him being wanted by the ICC.

Al-Bashir, who is accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, was in South Africa in June last year to attend the 25th African Union Summit in Johannesburg. The ICC had issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir in 2009.

A high court in South Africa at the time, issued an interim order stopping al-Bashir from leaving the country after the summit, but he ignored the order. The South African government was widely criticized for not arresting or stopping al-Bahir from leaving, but it argued that he had diplomatic immunity and was a visitor of the African Union and not the state.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Ekim 2016, 14:47