Breaking News: SA’s withdrawal rocks International Criminal Court (ICC)

SA’s withdrawal rocks International Criminal Court – On Friday South Africa announced the withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC)– dealing a major blow to a troubled institution set up to try the world’s worst crimes.

Reuters and The Associated Press both say South Africa’s foreign minister, declaring the country’s intent to withdraw following the signed document they said they have seen.

The AP reports that legislation to finalize the move has to pass South Africa’s parliament, but notes that passage of such a bill is likely.

SA's withdrawal rocks International Criminal Court

The case file against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is seen at the North Gauteng High court in Pretoria, South Africa, in June 2015 as a judge criticized the government for allowing Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court, to leave the country. Now South Africa has announced it is leaving the ICC.
[Mujahid Safodien/AFP/Getty Images]

When Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir visited the country for an African Union summit despite facing an ICC arrest warrant over alleged war crimes. South Africa refused to arrest him, saying he had immunity as a head of state.

Justice Minister Michael Masutha told reporters in Pretoria that the court was “inhibiting South Africa’s ability to honour its obligations relating to the granting of diplomatic immunity”.

“There is a view in Africa that the ICC in choosing who to prosecute has seemingly preferred to target leaders in Africa,” Masutha added to AFP.

“South Africa was an early supporter and advocate of the court and its withdrawal announcement marks probably the biggest setback yet for the ICC,” NPR’s Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports. “Predictions say Kenya will likely be next.”

The public broadcaster SABC published a document outlining the withdrawal plan, Earlier on Friday. And Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, South Africa’s minister of international relations and cooperation Signed the Document, and dated 19 October.

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“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,” the document states.

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