South Africa: Revocation of withdrawal from the ICC a chance to rethink thwarting pursuit of justice

In response to today’s announcement that the South African government has decided to revoke its notice to the UN of its intention to withdraw from Rome Statute, Amnesty International’s Africa Director for Research and Advocacy, Netsanet Belay said: “This formal revocation of the notice of withdrawal from the ICC presents yet another opportunity for the government of South Africa to rethink its decision to thwart the pursuit of justice. While the international community appears indifferent to mass atrocities committed with impunity around the world, it is even more important today that South Africa reclaims its position as a champion of African victims of crimes under international law.


“It remains to be seen if this revocation means a shift in Government’s intention to withdraw from the ICC or rather a temporary step to comply with the High Court decision and exhaust domestic procedures before formalising its withdrawal.

“If the Government’s revocation of its withdrawal becomes permanent, it means the nation follows the lead of Gambia which also revoked its withdrawal from the Rome Statute recently.


“We urge South Africa to align itself with the majority of African states that have unequivocally rejected calls for withdrawal and stood firm in their support for the ICC.”


Amnesty International has today submitted a briefing to the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services in response to the call for public comment on the proposed Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Repeal Bill. Click here to download the briefing.


Background


The news of South Africa revoking its notification of withdrawal from the Rome Statute follows a decision by the North Gauteng High Court two weeks ago which held, in a case brought by the opposition Democratic Alliance, that the government’s action in withdrawing from the ICC without consulting Parliament was unconstitutional and invalid, and which ordered the government to revoke its withdrawal.

The government had officially deposited its instrument of withdrawal from the ICC with the United Nations on 19 October 2016.
On 16 February 2017, Gambia also revoked its withdrawal from the Rome Statute.


The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation today received a briefing by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development on the High Court ruling on the ICC withdrawal and subsequent revocation.

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