After Burundi, South Africa on Friday, October 21 announced its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court. A letter was sent on 19 to the Secretary General of the UN to notify this decision. The departure of South Africa ICC will take place in a year from the date of receipt of this letter. The South African Minister of Justice justified its decision by explaining that joining the ICC is inconsistent with the obligation of South Africa to respect the diplomatic immunity of some leaders. The reactions are strong in the country.
Human rights organizations speak with one voice against the decision of South Africa. For the South African Litigation Centre (SALC) – the organization that had launched an appeal demanding the arrest President Omar al-Bashir when he was in South Africa – this announcement marks ” a sad day ” for human rights, and probably the end of a legal battle still unfinished.
For many, the country’s position is simply akin to ” a denial of justice “, ” vis-à-vis betrayal of millions of victims ,” according to Amnesty International. The Human Rights Watch regrets all the more that decision that comes from a country widely regarded as ” a world leader in international justice .”
As for the organization For Human Rights Lawyer, she believes that ” the victims have the right to access to justice, as the Heads of State have the duty to comply with them .” The activist Fatimata Mbaye, a lawyer and president of the Mauritanian Association of Human Rights speaks it a ” tragic folly ,” to the extent that the African supranational justice does not work yet.
Many observers immediately denounced a “decision illegal and unconstitutional ” since the Parliament was informed but not consulted beforehand. As such, the director of the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria called civil society to initiate legal action against that decision, which could push other African countries to leave the ICC, he said. An appeal is also considered by the Democratic Alliance.
The leader of the ANC MPs in Parliament has welcomed the withdrawal of the ICC, now in his instrument in the hands of some countries ” that interfered with his work to impose their imperialist agenda “.
Two countries take the plunge in a week, some fear that the precedent inspires other candidates to withdraw from the Rome Statute. Accused of neo-colonialism and to plague Africa, the ICC is under fire from critics but this will leave it as the Court so widespread on the continent?
Whether in the name of solidarity between Heads of State or of anti-colonialism, supporters of a withdrawal of the ICC are certainly those who are the most vocal. But at the African Union summit in Kigali this summer, there was no consensus for a massive withdrawal.
According to Franics Kpatindé, journalist and professor at Sciences-Po Paris, countries steeped in nationalism are the most critical. Cameroon, Ethiopia and Rwanda have for example not ratified the Rome Statute. Some positions are ambiguous: Uganda is one of the most vocal critics of the Court but cooperate in prosecutions against the LRA.
” There is a part of political rhetoric and opportunism ,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International, the Court still has supporters. Topping the list Botswana, established democracies, but also the Ivory Coast whose former president is being held in The Hague, Senegal or Nigeria.
Others cooperate without taking a position, like the DRC, Guinea and Mali. ” Some nevertheless think, says one observer, but they are too dependent on international aid. ”
Divorce is not consumed between the Court and the mainland. ” If there was a vote of States, concludes Francis Kpatindé we probably happen to equality. “