SA’s withdrawal from ICC a step backwards – AfriForum

Organisation says decision illustrates government’s culture of a lack of accountability

AfriForum: SA’s withdrawal from International Criminal Court a step backwards

21 October 2016

AfriForum deems the efforts of the South African government to withdraw from the Statute of Roma and consequently the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a step backwards in terms of human rights. It has just been reported in the media that the Department of International Relations and Cooperation had informed the United Nations formally that it was going to start the withdrawal process.

According to Alana Bailey, Deputy CEO of AfriForum tasked with International Relations, it is still unclear whether the Department alone has the authority to withdraw the ratification, or if Parliament’s approval is necessary. “Even so, AfriForum will oppose the process and investigate ways to prevent the execution thereof.”

She mentions that the discord between the ICC and Government was brought to a head when the latter refused to arrest and hand over the controversial human rights violator, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, to the ICC in 2015 during his visit to South Africa. The event shrouded the country in controversy, while Government defended themselves by claiming that the ICC discriminated against African leaders. “The ICC has finalised only a very few cases since its inception, but from those can be seen that an innocent leader – from whatever continent – has nothing to fear,” she says.

Bailey adds that it is increasingly evident on platforms abroad how South African government officials choose sides to the benefit of countries with doubtful human rights records. According to her, the withdrawal from the ICC illustrates Government’s culture of a lack of accountability, the disastrous consequences of which can be seen locally. The actions of various South African diplomats result in even more blotches on the country’s name because of their illegal actions abroad, criminal records and falsified qualifications. “In a time of economic challenges and internal instability, Government’s focus should indeed be on the promotion of a culture of accountability (within South Africa as well as abroad), as well as the expansion of investments by and relations with respected international partners,” she argues.

“On the other hand, the start of a formal withdrawal process from the Statute and the ICC is yet another step backwards for South Africa to the status of ‘skunk of the world’.” 

Issued by Alana Bailey, Deputy CEO, AfriForum, 21 October 2016