Reconsider ICC decision – Catholic Bishops

Bishops appeal to govt to remain within ICC until Africa has developed a credible regional court with capacity to demand accountability

Catholic Bishops ask the Government to reconsider its decision to withdraw from ICC

24 October 2016

We have noted with sadness the decision by the South African government to withdraw from the ICC.

We reject the Government’s argument that its obligations under the Rome Statute bring it into direct conflict with obligations to observe international diplomatic norms and standards,that include immunity.

We appeal to the government to reconsider its decision and remain within ICC until such a time that Africa has developed a credible and effective regional court with the capacity and will to demand accountability of all state officials and leaders, particularly the serving heads of governments.

We are deeply concerned that South African’s withdrawal from ICC will encourage large scale African exodus from Rome Statute and entrench impunity.

In registering our concern, we wish therefore to make the following appeals:

- Instead of withdrawing from the ICC, we appeal to the South African government and other members of African Union to use their regional bloc advantage to ensure that their repeated calls for reforms are urgently and effectively addressed. Such reforms should, among other things, include radical shift in prosecutorial policy of the ICC and the withdrawal of UNSC's referral and deferral powers so that they are conferred either to the Assembly of States Parties or the UN General Assembly.

- We appeal to the South African government to use its influence and continental leadership to ensure the ratification of the Malabo Court Protocol and the establishment of the African Court of Justice and Human and Peoples’ Rights that has jurisdiction over serving heads of state or senior state officials.

- We send a strong appeal to the ANC in Parliament to listen to their conscience and do the right thing when the bill relating to ICC withdrawal is debated and voted upon in the parliament. This is a matter that requires voting in terms of one’s conscience, and not only in terms of the partisan mandates.

Now more than ever, given the increasing levels of political instability, manipulation of terms limits and democratic reversals, Africa needs stronger deterrence mechanism against genocide and other crimes that shock the conscience of humanity.

Now more than ever, the ANC must show the high moral ground that was its trademark during the apartheid and stand in solidarity with the victims of human-rights violations in Africa.

Issued by Bishop Abel Gabuza, 24 October 2016