SALC disappointed by SA’s decision to leave ICC

The centre says the decision shows little regard for victims of genocide & crimes against humanity.

FILE: Advocate Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) says South Africa's decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) shows little regard for victims of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Government confirmed today that it's notified the United Nations Security Council and will soon initiate Parliamentary processes to repeal South Africa's participation in the Rome Statute.

It was the SALC which brought the application in June last year to compel government to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he attended the African Union summit.

Government, however, believes its commitment to the ICC undermines its efforts at negotiating peace.

The SALC's Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh says South Africa's decision is hugely disappointing, but it doesn't mean the country can welcome the likes of Al-Bashir back just yet.

"We'll need to study the government's decision before we formulate a full and detailed response, but there may still be obligations on the state outside of the Rome Statute."

Wits University Professor of International Relations John Stremlau says this is a significant blow to the country's standing.

"Seems like South Africa is racing to the bottom now. It likes to be identified with a more regressive forces on the continent, when there was a time not so long ago that South Africa was with the most progressive and democratic forces on the continent."

Government says it remains committed to upholding human rights.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has confirmed receipt of South Africa's withdrawal from the ICC.

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric says the withdrawal document is being processed, and will take effect on 19 October 2017.

Ramjathan-Keogh says the withdrawal means there is no other mechanism for African war criminals to face justice.

She says while the AU has adopted the Malabo Protocol of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights, it cannot be enforced.

"At the moment it's only a protocol, it's not enforced. There's no court, no judges behind it and no money, so it would be years before we can see something similar to what the ICC provides for us."