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Masutha: Some heads of state reluctant to visit SA

Government was found to have violated the ICC Act by failing to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he visited the country in 2015.

FILE: Justice Minister Michael Masutha. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Justice Minister Michael Masutha says some heads of state are reluctant to visit South Africa because of legal uncertainty over whether they’ll be protected by diplomatic immunity.

Masutha made the claim while briefing Parliament’s justice committee on a bill that will give effect to Cabinet’s decision to end South Africa’s membership of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Government was found by the Supreme Court of Appeal to have violated the ICC Act by failing to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he visited the country in 2015.

It’s now up to Parliament to decide whether or not to endorse Cabinet’s decision to end South Africa’s membership of the ICC.

Justice Minister Michael Masutha wants the bill repealing the ICC Act dealt with speedily.

“South Africa, since the Al-Bashir matter, has had difficulty in attracting the official visits of several heads of state given the legal uncertainty that this legal situation has created.”

South Africa played a key role in the establishment of the court, set up 15 years ago to ensure that perpetrators of genocide and other gross human rights violations do not escape with impunity.

Judgment is still pending in a case brought by the Democratic Alliance and other organisations challenging the decision by Cabinet.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)

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