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South Africa to withdraw from ICC over diplomatic immunity dispute

South Africa

South Africa has applied to leave the International Criminal Court after Burundi’s recent decision which is the first in history.

The Instrument of Withdrawal was signed on Wednesday by the International Relations Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

Justice Minister Michael Masutha addressed the press on Friday morning saying the South African cabinet took the decision on October 19.

“The implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act, 2002, is in conflict and inconsistent with the provisions of the Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act, 2001,” he explained as the reason for the decision which is in relation with last year’s dispute with the court over the visit of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir who is wanted by the tribunal for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

“Heads of state enjoy diplomatic immunity against arrest. But because of signing the statute, South Africa waived such immunity and was thus obliged to arrest people wanted for crimes against humanity. The problem was identified and needs to be addressed,” he added.

Masutha said a written notice has been submitted to the U.N. Secretary General and the withdrawal will take effect in a year.

“South Africa remains committed to fighting for human rights and will continue to actively promote dialogue and peaceful resolution of conflicts in South Africa and elsewhere,” he concluded.

South Africa’s decision follows that of Burundi which has signed a legislation withdrawing from the court after the ICC said it will investigate recent political violence in the country.

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