US expresses regret after Russia leaves ICC

Russia’s decision to leave the ICC is seen as a step in a trend that may threaten the future of world justice.

FILE: Russia's President Vladimir Putin . Picture: AFP.

PRETORIA – Fourteen years after withdrawing from the International Criminal Court (ICC), the United States (US) has expressed regret that Russia has made exactly the same decision.

Both Russia and the US signed the Rome Statute of 1998 giving birth to the ICC, Neither have ratified that treaty, and now both have pointedly rejected the tribunal’s authority.

Russia’s decision to leave the ICC altogether is widely seen as the latest step in a trend that may threaten the future of world justice.

This after Burundi, South Africa and Gambia gave notice of quitting the court.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby says even though Washington doesn’t recognise the ICC’s authority over its personnel, it does not diminish US belief that the court does provide a valuable framework.

He says Washington supports ICC prosecution of those cases that advance US interests.

Russia will be the fourth country to leave the ICC in recent weeks, after South Africa, Burundi and Gambia withdrew from the Rome Statute.

South Africa's Justice Minister Michael Masutha presented a bill in Parliament to repeal the country’s membership of the ICC, which the government has said clashes with diplomatic immunity laws.

Pretoria last year announced its intention to leave after the ICC criticised it for disregarding an order to arrest Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir during a visit to South Africa.

Bashir faces charges of orchestrating genocide and war crimes, charges that he's dismissed.

“At the end of this proceeding we will be tabling the notice of withdrawal that South Africa lodged with the secretary general of the United Nations,” Masutha told legislators during a debate on the ICC.

South Africa and Burundi have officially notified the United Nations of their intent to withdraw from the Rome Statute, the 1998 treaty establishing The Hague-based court.

The withdrawals will take effect in October 2017.