South Africa To Pull Out Of ICC - Ramaphosa

10 months agoTue, 25 Apr 2023 17:59:28 GMT
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South Africa To Pull Out Of ICC - Ramaphosa

The African National Congress (ANC), the ruling party in South Africa, plans to pull out the country from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

This is the second time the ANC has attempted to do so. The decision was made after the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 17, accusing him of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine.

President Cyril Ramaphosa told reporters during a state visit by Finnish president Sauli Niinisto:

The governing party, the African National Congress, has taken that decision that it is prudent that South Africa should pull out of the ICC, largely because of the manner in which the ICC has been seen to be dealing with (these) type of problems.

Just two days before this announcement, South Africa’s parliament said it would stop its seven-year-long effort to withdraw from the ICC’s Rome Statute. This was because the ruling party had decided in December to stay in the ICC and work for changes from the inside, but now they have changed their mind and want to leave the ICC after all.

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The international arrest warrant for Putin was issued after he had been invited to attend the BRICS summit in South Africa in August. If he comes to South Africa, he could be handed over to the ICC in The Hague.

South Africa’s official in charge of relations with BRICS countries confirmed that Putin had been invited by President Ramaphosa and Russia had indicated attendance. The Kremlin has not yet decided whether Putin will attend. If he does, it could restart the process to withdraw South Africa from the ICC, but that process takes a long time and is unlikely to be completed before the summit.

In 2016, three African countries – Burundi, the Gambia, and South Africa – announced their intention to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC), leading to concerns that more countries would follow. However, only Burundi and South Africa formally communicated their decision to withdraw. The Gambia initially said it would withdraw but changed its mind after a new government was elected. Despite the African Union’s agreement for a collective withdrawal from the ICC, no other countries have left the court. South Africa revoked its notice of withdrawal in March after being forced to do so by its own courts for not following proper legal procedures. Burundi eventually withdrew in 2017.

Some African leaders, including Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, and Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta, have criticized the International Criminal Court (ICC), calling it a “bunch of useless people,” a tool of global power politics, and not about justice.

Many Africans feel that the ICC disproportionately targets African countries and does not respect their sovereignty. However, ICC’s former prosecutor Fatou Bensouda dismissed these criticisms, noting that most cases were initiated by the countries themselves. 

Even as the AU was reported to have adopted a mass withdrawal strategy, some countries, such as Nigeria, opposed it, particularly the idea of leaving en masse.

Critics say that Sudan and Libya were referred to the ICC by the UN Security Council, even though three of the five veto-wielding countries on the council (China, Russia, and the United States) are not ICC members. These critics argue that the Security Council was quick to indict leaders of these two countries, but efforts to refer countries like Syria have been blocked by some of these same countries.

What some countries are demanding:

As far back as 2013, Kenya wanted sitting presidents to be exempt from trial while South Africa called for presidents’ immunity from prosecution to be respected.

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