Law expert explains the complexities of SA leaving ICC

Law expert explains the complexities of SA leaving ICC

A lecturer at the University of KwaZulu Natal's School of Law says it is unclear whether South Africa's withdrawal from the International Criminal Court would absolve the country of its responsibilities, including arresting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. 

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Al-Bashir, who is wanted by the ICC on war crimes in Darfur was in South Africa in June for the African Union Summit. 

The government allowed him to leave, just as the High Court in Pretoria was ordering the State to meet its international obligations and carry out the warrant of arrest issued by the ICC. 

During its National General Council at the weekend, the ANC announced plans for the country to begin the process of withdrawing from the ICC, and potentially convincing other African states to do the same. 

UKZN lecturer Christopher Gevers says withdrawing from the Rome Statute will be a long process with international and domestic implications.

"We would need to amend our domestic legislation which gives effect to our international obligations, which we call the ICC Act. Now, the trouble domestically is that the Act combines two different sections. The first one deals with co-operating with criminal courts and the second one deals with domestic prosecutions of international crimes. 

"Repealing an entire Act means that you would lose both the universal jurisdiction provisions for domestic prosecutions and the international portion. So there would be a need to calibrate the repeal or to partially repeal the act if possible," he said. 

The ruling party says it believes the ICC has lost its direction and has accused it of double standards.

(File photo)

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