CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) --
African government has formally revoked its intent to withdraw
from the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The decision to
revoke the withdrawal was made by the cabinet on Tuesday and a
letter to this effect has been sent to the United Nations,
Acting Chief State Law Advisor Ayesha Johaar said in Cape Town.
Johaar, however, refused to take up follow-up questions.
International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and
Justice Minister Michael Masutha were supposed to brief
Parliament’s International Relations Portfolio Committee on
Wednesday to explain the cabinet’s decision, but they were both
absent, causing dismay among opposition MPs.
MPs were informed that Masutha was ill.
The minister acting on his behalf, Communications Minister
Faith Muthambi, could not make it for the meeting either.
Instead, Muthambi sent Johaar in her stead to explain the
decision. But no reason was given for the absence of
The government revoked its intent to withdraw from the ICC
after the High Court in Pretoria ruled on February 22 that the
government’s notice of withdrawal from the ICC, without
parliamentary approval, was "unconstitutional and invalid".
The cabinet said after a fortnightly meeting on March 2 that
it abides by the ruling.
In October last year, the South African government announced
that it had begun the process of withdrawing from the ICC. A
written notice was submitted to then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The withdrawal would take effect one year after the secretary
general received notification, according to a notice issued by
the government then.
South Africa is hindered by the Rome Statute under which the
ICC was established, the notice said.
The Rome Statute compels South Africa to arrest people who
may enjoy diplomatic immunity but who are wanted by the ICC.
A case in point is 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,
The South African government argued 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.
The South African government said implementation of the Rome
Statute is also in conflict and inconsistent with provisions of
the country’s Diplomatic Immunities & Privileges Act.