DA ready to go to court over SA’s ICC pull-out

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October 24, 2016
DA ready to go to court over SA’s ICC pull-out

President Jacob Zuma with Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir CREDIT: Jacoline Prinsloo GCIS/DIRCO

Opposition party backlash after 'unconstitutional' ICC withdrawal.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Friday it would approach the courts to have South Africa’s notice of withdrawal to the International Criminal Court (ICC) set aside on the grounds that it “is unconstitutional, irrational and procedurally flawed”.

The DA said the decision by Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Nkoana-Mashabane to act unilaterally on this matter was a disgrace and showed the depth of impunity and disregard for the rule of law within the ruling ANC.

“Clearly the minister was acting with a hole in her head when she decided to submit this withdrawal notice to the United Nations – it is unconstitutional, irrational and counter the prescripts of administrative justice, and as such must be set aside by the courts,” the DA said in a statement issued after Justice Minister Michael Masutha on Friday confirmed the South African government’s decision to withdraw from the ICC.

“Clearly she has taken her lead from President Jacob Zuma,” the DA said.

“Section 231 of the Constitution is clear that binding international agreements become law in the republic upon ratification by the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces. It is thus unconstitutional for the minister to unilaterally exit South Africa from the agreement, without Parliament having repealed the agreement first.

“Further, there has been no public consultation on this decision and thus it flies in the face of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act.”

“Finally, it is simply irrational, given the Constitutional imperatives underlying our participation in the ICC and the Rome Statute.”

The DA added: “In a constitutional democracy such as ours, we cannot accept an executive that is no longer committed to the fight against genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Certainly we cannot turn a blind eye to such actions given our own history.”

Meanwhile the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) on Friday said South Africa’s withdrawal from the ICC warrants an “urgent parliament debate”.

The IFP said its parliamentary Chief Whip and member of the Judicial Services Commission, Narend Singh, wrote to the Speaker on Friday morning to call for an urgent debate on South Africa’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“This decision warrants urgent debate in our national Parliament,” said Singh, “It appears to be an attempt to legitimise our government’s ill-advised decision to harbour and sanction Sudanese President, Omar Al-Bashir.”

The International Criminal Court (ICC) called on South Africa to reconsider its decision to leave, saying doing so could open the door for other African nations to exit.

In a statement yesterday, Sidiki Kaba, the president of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, said South Africa and Burundi, which is also considering leaving, could still change course.

As a member of the ICC, South Africa was legally obligated to arrest and detain Al-Bashir when he visited the country in June last year. President Al-Bashir stands accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

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