Ramaphosa restates why SA is quitting the International Criminal Court

09 November 2016 - 19:52 By Babalo Ndenze

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has reiterated the government’s decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC)‚ saying South Africa had raised its concerns repeatedly. He was responding to questions from members of the National Council of Provinces on a range of issues on Wednesday. The DA’s Chris Hattingh asked whether the departure of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir from the Waterkloof Airforce Base had had any negative impact on South African’s international relations and on the decision to withdraw from the ICC.“We have publicly and repeatedly expressed concern about manner in which the ICC functions. Most recently South Africa used the mechanism of consultation available under article 97 of the Rome Statute to raise the difficulty it has in reconciling its obligations in terms of the statute and its obligations of the African Union‚” said Ramaphosa.Withdrawal from ICC could send ‘wrong message’, says UN chiefThe intention of three African nations‚ among them South Africa‚ to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) could send the wrong message on these countries’ commitment to justice‚ United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned. Last week justice minister Michael Masutha presented a bill in parliament to start the process to repeal the country's membership of the International Criminal Court and Rome Statutes.Ramaphosa’s address to the NCOP came a day before the National Assembly is expected to debate a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.SA’s diplomatic system ‘hamstrung’ - Masutha on ICC withdrawalJustice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha says South Africa’s exit from the International Criminal Court (ICC) was prompted less by perceived bias and more by “the legal difficulties primarily that we experienced in dealing with the court”‚ especially around diplomatic immunity. Ramaphosa was rather well received by NCOP delegates‚ unlike on previous occasions where he was interrupted repeatedly by opposition party MPs.Ramaphosa said that despite numerous engagements‚ the principal issue the country raised about the ICC had not been addressed.SA was one of the ‘greatest stonemasons’ of the Rome Statute: Retired justice Albie SachsStruggle stalwart Albie Sachs said he “didn’t go out in the streets and dance when I heard the step had been taken” for South Africa to withdraw from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). “It has therefore become apparent that to continue to be a state party to the Rome Statute would undermine South Africa’s efforts to promote the peaceful resolution of conflict both on the African continent and further afield.”He said the withdrawal from the ICC could therefore be understood as a “critique of the manner in which the institution has functioned”.Ramaphosa outlined that the Rome Statute establishing the ICC was incompatible with the country’s domestic laws regarding immunity for visiting foreign heads of state and government that may be subject to investigations by the ICC.- TMG Digital/The Times

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