South African Minister of justice, Michael Masutha on Wednesday said the country still plans to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC).
A High Court in South Africa had earlier ruled that the country’s decision to withdraw from the ICC is unconstitutional.
“The notice of the withdrawal from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court signed by the first respondent, the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation on 19 October 2016 without prior parliamentary approval is unconstitutional and invalid,” said the High Court Judge, Phineas Mojapelo.
The notice of the withdrawal from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court signed by the first respondent, the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation on 19 October 2016 without prior parliamentary approval is unconstitutional.
Masutha described October’s notification to the United Nations of the country’s intent to withdraw from the Rome Statute, as a policy decision.
He said the government would decide on how to proceed, including a possible appeal, after reading the full judgment.
“It does create a breathing space for the government to go back to the drawing board to reconsider what they have decided and perhaps come up with a more rational approach,” said a member of parliament, James Selfe.
South Africa had officially notified the United nations of its intention to withdraw from the Rome statute and 1998 treaty establishing the Hague-based court.
The minister of International Relations and Cooperation had on October 19 signed the instrument of withdrawal following a cabinet decision.
Three African states – South Africa, Gambia and Burundi – last year signaled their intention to quit the ICC. Gambia’s President Adama Barrow, elected in December, said earlier this month it will remain in the ICC.
However, South Africa said it was quitting the ICC because membership conflicted with diplomatic immunity laws.
Pretoria had in 2015 announced its intention to leave after the ICC criticized it for disregarding an order to arrest Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, accused of genocide and war crimes, when he visited South Africa. Bashir has denied the accusations.
The International Criminal Court, which opened in July 2002 and has 124 member states, is the first legal body with permanent international jurisdiction to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.