ICC withdrawal sends wrong message to the continent

Thulani Gqirana, News24

Cape Town - If Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir visited South Africa while the country was withdrawing from the International Criminal Court (ICC), the government would still be obligated to arrest him.

Also, given the process would take more than 12 months to complete, the country still had to uphold its responsibilities in terms of international law.

This is according to Lawyers of Human Rights attorney Wayne Ncube, who on Monday said the decision to withdraw from the ICC was a step in the wrong direction in terms of international criminal law.

The ICC has issued a warrant of arrest for Bashir who has been accused of war crimes and genocide.

"In terms of current legislation, as long as he has that indictment against him from the ICC, he should be arrested if and when he comes into the country."

Ncube said there were several procedural steps to be taken before South Africa could withdraw from the ICC, including a legislative change.

"It is a complicated procedure and we hope in that time, there is reconsideration from Parliament and the country would at least continue to uphold its responsibilities.

"Withdrawing from the ICC sends the wrong message to the continent. At the very least, we hope it will not signal a pattern from the rest of the African countries to withdraw from the court, which has mostly got its support from the continent."

To withdraw from the statute, the State must submit 12 months' written notice to the United Nations secretary general and Ncube said they hoped during time, there was proper engagement among the African Union leaders.

"The push from leaders around the world should be for countries to embrace the ICC and give it as much support as possible."

Source http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/ICC-withdrawal-sends-wrong-messag...