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DA: SA's ICC exit must be approved by Parliament

Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has reportedly begun the process of withdrawing from the ICC.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (R) meets with South African President Jacob Zuma during an official two-day visit on 31 January 2015 in the capital Khartoum. Picture: AFP/Ashraf Shazly.

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG - The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Parliament says that South Africa's decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) cannot be cleared without approval from the National Legislature.

International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has reportedly begun the process of withdrawing from the ICC and notified the United Nations (UN) about the move yesterday, citing the court's perceived biases against African states as a reason for the exit.

The document also reportedly highlights the dilemma the country faced last year when Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir visited Johannesburg for an African Union summit.

The process is expected to take up to a year before a total withdrawal is completed.

The DA's chief whip in Parliament, John Steenhuisen, says the Rome Statute is no ordinary international treaty, and Parliament needs to authorise any intention to pull out of the ICC.

"Any moves further down this road will be subject to legal review."

In a formal instrument of withdrawal, apparently sent to the UN, Nkoana-Mashabane this week set in motion South Africa's plans to withdraw from the ICC.

It's a move Steenhuisen has described as a spiteful reprisal.

"The message that it will send out is that we are no longer a country whose foreign and domestic policy is based on human rights and the advancement around the world."

The United Nations has not yet confirmed receipt of South Africa's notice.

Meanwhile, the Helen Suzman Foundation says that South Africa's withdrawal from the ICC would be a major setback as human rights need to be universalised.

The foundation's Francis Antonie says: "We want throughout the continent and world to universalise human rights and this is one way to do it. If the reports are correct then this is sad and unfortunate, it's a retrogressive step."

At the same time, Human Rights Watch says the proposal shows a startling disregard for justice from a country long seen as a global leader on accountability for victims of the gravest crimes.

The organisation's Dewa Mavhinga says: "South Africa has been a leader in terms of UN rights and abuse, so this would really derail this in terms of freedom and justice for South Africa."

Justice Minister Michael Masutha will present further details on the matter later this morning.

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