UN Takes S. African letter on ICC withdrawal

The United Nations on Friday confirmed that it has received a letter from the government of South African on its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC), making South Africa the second African country to quit the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the international tribunal.

International Criminal Court (ICC)
International Criminal Court (ICC)

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters here that the instrument of withdrawal document has been assessed by the United Nations as bona fide and is being processed.

“The letter is being processed by the (UN) Office of Legal Affairs,” Dujarric said at a daily news briefing here.

South Africa has begun the process of withdrawing from the International Criminal Court (ICC), Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha confirmed on Friday.

A written notice has been submitted to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and the withdrawal will take effect one year after the secretary general receives notification, Masutha told a press briefing in Pretoria.

If successful, South Africa will be the second African country, following Burundi, to quit the ICC, which is often perceived as being biased against African states.

“The secretary-general deeply regrets the decision of the government of South Africa,” Dujarric said. “The secretary-general recalls the significant role played by South Africa in the negotiations to create the ICC and the fact that it was one of the first signatories to the Rome Statute.”

South Africa is hindered by the Rome Statute under which the ICC was established, Masutha said, adding that the Rome Statute compels his country to arrest people who may enjoy diplomatic immunity but who are wanted by the ICC.

He was referring to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir who is wanted by the ICC for alleged anti-humanity crimes. South Africa rejected a request by the ICC to arrest al-Bashir when he was attending the 25th African Union Summit in Johannesburg in June 2015.

On Tuesday, Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza signed legislation to make his country the first to withdraw from the ICC, which wants to investigate recent political violence in the country.

The South African government argued that in addition to complying with its obligations to the ICC, the country has obligations to the African Union, which rules that no organization can arrest any sitting head of state in African countries.

The ICC was established to prosecute cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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