South African Court Declares ICC Withdrawal Unconstitutional

By Samantha Netzband

Impunity Watch, Africa Desk Reporter

CAPE TOWN, South Africa– The North Gauteng High Court in South Africa has declared that South Africa’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court unconstitutional.  The court’s reasoning behind this decision is that because the parliament was not consulted in making the withdrawal, the withdrawal is unconstitutional.  The court has ordered that President Jacob Zuma and the Ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs revoke their notice of withdrawal.

A picture of the ICC logo on a glass wall.

The ICC. (Photo Courtesy of Human Rights Watch)

This ruling comes at an interesting time in the international community.  The Gambia, which is under new leadership, just recently revoked its own withdrawal notice.  After the ruling in South Africa there is now only one African nation who wishes to withdrawal, the country of Burundi.  Many in South Africa are excited about the ruling, mainly because of South Africa’s human rights focused foreign policy.  South Africa has worked to keep good human rights record since the end of apartheid.

While this ruling is welcome by many the government can appeal the ruling to a higher court, which they most likely will.  The government is still reeling after the visit of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s in 2015.  While the Sudanese President was visiting Johannesburg for an African Union summit the South African government openly ignored an ICC arrest warrant for al-Bashir.  The Sudanese President is wanted for alleged war crimes.

For now members of the international community are happy with this victory that will help save the International Criminal Court.  Until the government appeals South Africa will not be able to withdrawal from the court.

For more information, please see: 

Arab News – South African Court rules ICC Withdrawal Unconstitutional – 23 February 2017

BBC Africa – South Africa’s Decision to leave ICC ruled ‘invalid’ – 22 February 2017

Daily Maverick – Hasty, irrational and unconstitutional: High Court’s damning verdict on SA’s ICC withdrawal – 24 February 2017

Human Rights Watch – South Africa High Court Rejects ICC Withdrawal – 22 February 2017

Author: Samantha Netzband

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *