S. African justice minister defends withdrawal from ICC

South Africa’s Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha said on Monday that his country has made a right decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

South Africa doesn’t want to become an international police officer who will enforce justice at all cost in the entire world, the minister told the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

Masutha confirmed on Friday that his country had begun the process of withdrawing from the ICC. A written notice has been submitted to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and the withdrawal will take effect one year after the secretary general receives notification.

As a signatory to the Rome Statute, under which the ICC was established, South Africa is compelled by the ICC to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir who is wanted by the ICC for alleged anti-humanity crimes.

South Africa rejected a request by the ICC to arrest al-Bashir when he was attending the 25th African Union Summit in Johannesburg in June, 2015.

The South African government argues that in addition to complying with its obligations to the ICC, the country has obligations to the AU, which rules that no organization can arrest any sitting head of state in African countries.

Masutha said on Monday that there has never been a country that has arrested a sitting head of state and South Africa refuses to be a guinea pig.

He asks: “Do we want to become an international police officer who will enforce justice at all cost in the entire world? Do we have that capacity? Can we realistically arrest a sitting head of state in South Africa at a risk of perpetuating conflict in that country or provoking a war between ourselves and another country?”

The minister said this is not what South Africa wants to achieve.

 

Xinhua/Zainab Sa’id