The European Union has expressed deep regrets over the decision by the Republic of South Africa and Burundi to withdraw from the Rome Statute and by that quit the International Criminal Court (ICC).
‘‘We equally note with deep concern that Burundi has formalized steps to withdraw from the Rome Statute. Until now, no State has ever withdrawn from the Rome Statute,’‘ an EU statement said.
The EU said it was particularly disturbed about South Africa’s position given that the country played a significant role in the establishment of the ICC and was one of the first signatories of the Rome Statue. ‘‘We will continue to engage with both countries on how they can remain partners to the Rome Statute,’‘ the statement added.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) according to the EU is a key institution to assist citizens achieve justice when confronted with the most serious crimes, where this is not possible at the national level.
‘‘We all have a shared interest in strengthening the rule of law and working together with the ICC, including along the lines suggested by the President of the Rome Statute’s Assembly of States Parties,’‘ the EU admonished.
The EU said together with it Member States, they remained staunch supporters of the ICC and are committed to full co-operation on the prevention of serious crimes falling under the jurisdiction of the Court.
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South Africa late last week revealed that it had notified the United Nations Secretary-General of its intention to withdraw as a party to the Rome Statute. The treaty that established the ICC back in 1998.
Until South Africa’s move, the most recent African country to initiate exiting the ICC was Burundi. The government and parliament have agreed to leave but were yet to officially notify the UN Secretary General.
South Africa had before now mooted the idea of dropping its ICC membership following its highly controversial failure to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during an African Union summit in Johannesburg in June 2015.
On the eve of al-Bashir’s arrival in South Africa, the ICC issued several calls for his arrest to the South African government. It was in light of this that Jeff Radebe, minister in the presidency, announced that South Africa was reconsidering its participation in the ICC.