African countries adopt strategy for mass withdrawal from ICC

Heads of state made the decision at the recent African Union summit in an effort to send a 'political message' to the ICC.

FILE: The International Criminal Court's building (ICC) in The Hague. Picture: AFP.

ADDIS ABABA - African countries have adopted a strategy for mass withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) but many had reservations.

Heads of state made the decision at the recent African Union summit in an effort to send a “political message” to the war crimes court.

Delegates who attended the last day of the summit on Tuesday confirmed that the AU has called on its member states to withdraw from the ICC.

Thirty-four out of the 55 member states are signed up to the court.

The decision was apparently taken by consensus, but there were a number of states who opposed such a move.

Nigeria has during the summit spearheaded the call for opposition to the withdrawal.

A South African official said that although such a move could be legally impossible, it was meant to send a political message.

Countries like South Africa have criticised the court for what they call its skewed focus on prosecuting African leaders.

South Africa has already started taking steps to withdraw from the court, following the controversy around a visit by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to the country for the 2015 AU summit in Johannesburg.

(Edited by Winnei Theletsane)