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South Africa revokes decision to leave ICC

South Africa revokes decision to leave ICC File photo

South Africa has formally revoked its controversial decision to leave the International Criminal Court following last month’s High Court ruling that such a move would be unconstitutional.

Notice of Pretoria’s decision to end the withdrawal process was posted on the UN’s treaty website this week, although it does not necessarily spell the end of its bid to leave the Hague-based court.

South Africa had in October announced it would withdraw from the UN court which was set up to try the world’s worst crimes following a dispute sparked by its refusal to arrest visiting Sudan President Omar al-Bashir.

The ICC had issued an arrest warrant for Bashir over alleged war crimes, but South African authorities refused to detain him, saying he had immunity as a head of state.

The decision to leave the UN court sparked widespread criticism, but on Tuesday, Pretoria informed UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres that the process by which it had begun withdrawing “was found to be unconstitutional and invalid”.

“In order to adhere to the (High Court) judgement, I hereby revoke the Instrument of Withdrawal from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court with immediate effect,” the notice on the UN’s treaty website said.

Last month, the North Gauteng High Court ruled that the government’s bid to quit the ICC was unconstitutional because it had failed to properly consult parliament.

The case was brought by the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance.

Although Pretoria complied with the court ruling, this week’s decision to cancel the withdrawal process may only be a temporary reprieve, with the government expected to table a bill in parliament to win approval for South Africa’s departure from the court.


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