African countries seem to be falling in line to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC). Barely a week after Burundi started its ICC withdrawal process, South Africa is following suit.
The reason for South Africa’s ICC withdrawal process, which has already been set in motion, was given as a bias which the court allegedly has for African governments.
The country has submitted an “Instrument of Withdrawal” document to the United Nations; the first step in the process of withdrawal.
The Instrument of Withdrawal document, which was allegedly obtained by some media outlets – although, neither SA or the UN has confirmed the report – reads in one part:
“The Republic of South Africa has found that its obligations with respect to the peaceful resolution of conflicts at times are incompatible with the interpretation given by the International Criminal Court.”
A couple of moves by SA have shown the country’s discontent with the court, one of which was their refusal to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the ICC on charges of genocide and war crimes, last year. President Omar al-Bashir had been attending an African Union summit in Johannesburg when the court made the request.
SA had then threatened to leave the ICC after its courts ruled that the government had violated its international obligations by failing to arrest President Bashir.
Human Rights Watch criticizing the move said;
“South Africa’s proposed withdrawal from the International Criminal Court shows startling disregard for justice from a country long seen as a global leader on accountability for victims of the gravest crimes
“It’s important both for South Africa and the region that this runaway train be slowed down and South Africa’s hard-won legacy of standing with victims of mass atrocities be restored.”
South Africa’s ICC withdrawal move comes just a week after South African President Jacob Zuma visited Kenya, a country whose President is highly critical of the court after he beat an ICC prosecution case brought against him. There have, however, been some legal arguments as to whether the government can go on with the ICC withdrawal without parliamentary approval, which was not sought.
Burundi announced its own withdrawal intent two weeks ago, and had the country’s MPs backing the decision and the President signing it into law on Tuesday.
Namibia also, last year, declared an intent to withdraw from the ICC, describing the court as an “abomination” which wants to “dictate” to Africans how they should be governed.