The International Bar Association (IBA) is concerned that the African National Congress (ANC) has declared its intention to withdraw the country from the International Criminal Court (ICC) and called for all nations in Africa to walk out of the court.
Mark Ellis, IBA executive director, comments: ‘It is baffling as to why South Africa, a country which played such a prominent role in the establishment of the ICC, now intends to walk away from working towards the court’s objectives of ending impunity for atrocity crimes. The IBA urges South Africans to reject the African National Congress’ resolution to withdraw from the ICC and to remain, by example, a beacon of hope for victims of egregious crimes everywhere.
“Those, whose human rights are violated, need to be assured that the perpetrators will be punished.”
South Africa played an important role in creating the ICC, established in 2002. It was one of the first countries to ratify the Rome Statute, which set up the court, and to incorporate it into domestic law. The resolution of the ANC, if adopted, will make South Africa the first nation to leave the fold of the ICC.
The IBA reiterates the importance of continued efforts to address the concerns of all African State Parties to the ICC and, to that end, calls upon national and international stakeholders to engage with the ANC to promote discussion between South Africa and the court.
Obed Bapela, ANC foreign policy committee member, reportedly said that the resolution to withdraw from the ICC was passed because the ICC has “lost its direction”. The resolution comes after South Africa was criticised for its handling of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s visit to the country earlier this year after the ICC had issued a warrant for his arrest for alleged war crimes and genocide committed in Darfur. Despite the warrant and a High Court ruling ordering the government to arrest him, Al-Bashir was allowed to leave the country.