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ANC still seeks withdrawal from ICC

The party's sub-committee on international relations says government will follow the proper procedures to withdraw from the ICC.

FILE: The International Criminal Courts building (ICC) in The Hague. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The African National Congress (ANC) sub-committee on international relations says it's still seeking the withdrawal of South Africa from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

It says government will follow the proper procedures to withdraw from the ICC, noting a court order that the initial attempt was not legal.

A media briefing was held at the party’s headquarters in Johannesburg on Sunday.

International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane says the intention to withdraw from the ICC still stands.

“We will follow the laws of the land on what we should do.”

She says the ICC’s interests are not in the interest of some states.

“There are 122 members and only about seven ministers who attend the assembly of state practice.”

She says they also need to discuss amendments on areas of concern within the ICC.

“Three members of the security council are not members of the ICC.”

In April, South African legal representatives appeared before the ICC to explain why it did not arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he attended the African Union summit in Johannesburg in 2015.

Representatives told the court that government was under no obligation to arrest a sitting head of state like al-Bashir.

Al-Bashir is wanted by the court on various crimes, including genocide and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Darfur.

Legal advisor Dire Tladi told the court that Sudan was not a signatory to the Rome Statute and that means South Africa was not obliged to arrest its sitting head of state.

Tladi said this hearing was significant and had far-reaching consequences beyond al-Bashir. The immunity of many other heads of state would be affected, he said.

During an African Union summit in February, some African countries adopted a strategy for mass withdrawal from the ICC but many had reservations.

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

Additional reporting by Carien du Plessis.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)