AfriForum views the South African Government’s persistence in its process to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a step backwards for human rights. The Justice Committee of the South African Parliament yesterday discussed the acceptance of a Bill that will see the Statute of Rome, the treaty that established the ICC, removed from South African law books. This will end South Africa’s participation in this Court.
It has also recently became known that African leaders accepted a strategy during the present session of the African Union (AU) to appeal to all members of the AU to jointly withdraw from the ICC. Since its inception in 2002, the ICC investigated and/or undertook cases related to events not only in various African countries, but also countries of other continents, for example Georgia, Afghanistan, Colombia and Palestine. Nevertheless, South African MPs and representatives of other AU member countries allege that the ICC specifically targets leaders in Africa. The South African Government’s refusal to arrest President Omar al-Bashir, notorious human rights violator and Sudanese President, during his visit to the country in 2015 and hand him over to the ICC resulted in the decision by South Africa to withdraw from the Court.
According to Alana Bailey, Deputy CEO of AfriForum responsible for international relations, the ICC has so far finalised relatively few cases. Where judgement has been passed, it is clear that a truly innocent leader – from whichever continent – has nothing to fear.
Bailey is of the opinion that the withdrawal from the ICC does not bode well for the future of human rights in this country – and neither on the continent.
“An international platform where perpetrator can be held responsible will be lost. This means that the burden on the shoulders of civil rights organisations will increase significantly.”
“They will now, more than ever, have to take a stand, give a voice to victims and use all possible options to hold perpetrators responsible. This is also the role that AfriForum assumes in the national and international arena alike.”