AfriForum: “Withdrawal from ICC is step backwards into swamp of human rights violations and unaccountability”
AfriForum regards the decision of the ANC the past weekend that South Africa should withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a further step of the ruling party backwards into a quagmire where human rights and accountability do not apply.
According to Alana Bailey, Deputy CEO of AfriForum concerned with international relations, the announcement was no surprise. In June 2015, the ANC had already stated that it was considering instructing Parliament to withdraw from the ICC. This followed assistance rendered to Pres Omar al-Bashir of Sudan to flee from the country in spite of a warrant for his arrest issued by the court.
The ANC currently takes consistent steps to avoid national and international accountability and move away from a culture of the protection of human rights. Internally, there is the contempt with which inter alia the Public Protector’s findings are treated and the way in which constitutional watchdog institutions are paralyzed by mismanagement, corruption and cadre deployment. Events at international level reflect the same trend – AfriForum has already expressed concerns rethe increasing dysfunctionality of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). Furthermore, the SADC Tribunal, a Southern African regional court which had inter alia provided Zimbabwean farmers with an opportunity to lodge complaintsagainst Pres Robert Mugabe’s land-grabbing process, was disbanded without opposition from the South African government.
Bailey noted that the withdrawal from the ICC also entails withdrawal from the Rome Statute by means of which the ICC had been established. The statute identifies four categories of international crimes that could be prosecuted by thecourt, namely genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. It was signed by South Africa in 1998 and ratified in 2000.
“Apart from the fact that the withdrawal involves a complicated process, it also sends a powerful message to the national and international community that South Africa treats the protection of human rights with contempt.”
Furthermore, Bailey believes that the move could have far-reaching consequences for the country.
“Foreign investors are already deterred by pending legislation that will restrict their ownership of property and businesses in South Africa. The move away from a culture of human rights and international accountability will encourage them to explore investment options in other countries. The current anti-US and Western statements by the ANC create unnecessary tension withstable trading partners and this will be fueled even further by this step. South African votes in the UN Security Council, the protection of human rights violators like al-Bashir and Mugabe, and now this decision by the ruling partyincreasingly brands South Africa as a country which is an enemy of human rights.”
AfriForum will take all possible steps to garner national and international support against the withdrawal from the ICC.
Issued by Alana Bailey, Deputy CEO, AfriForum, 12 October 2015