ICC with­drawal de­ci­sion is now in your hands

CityPress - - Voices -

‘Pro­ce­dural ir­ra­tional­ity.” “Pre­ma­tu­rity.” “Un­ex­plained haste.”

Those were the terms the high court used to de­scribe govern­ment’s bun­gled de­ci­sion to with­draw from the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC).

Order­ing govern­ment to im­me­di­ately re­voke its no­tice to with­draw from the court, the full Bench headed by Judge Phineas Mo­japelo said the process should have been ini­ti­ated by Par­lia­ment and not the ex­ec­u­tive.

The court rul­ing fol­lowed In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions Min­is­ter Maite Nkoana-Masha­bane’s let­ter to the UN sig­nalling South Africa’s in­ten­tion to with­draw from the Rome Statute by Oc­to­ber this year. The Rome Statute is the in­stru­ment un­der which the ICC was set up.

In her let­ter, Nkoana-Masha­bane said South Africa’s mem­ber­ship of the ICC con­flicted with the coun­try’s in­volve­ment in con­flict res­o­lu­tion. The de­ci­sion was pre­cip­i­tated by govern­ment’s han­dling of Su­danese mass butcher Omar al Bashir’s visit to South Africa and the court’s cas­ti­ga­tion of govern­ment for vi­o­lat­ing its le­gal du­ties.

This week, Mo­japelo was scathing of govern­ment’s fail­ure to con­sult Par­lia­ment, “the prin­ci­pal leg­isla­tive or­gan of the state”, and of the be­lated at­tempt to rush the Re­peal Bill through.

“Par­lia­ment is ... the master of its own pro­cesses, and the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive is not en­ti­tled to dic­tate time frames to it within which to con­sider any bill be­fore it ... Par­lia­ment has a spe­cial role to play in our con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy.”

The courts have now put the mat­ter back in the hands of the cit­i­zens and their rep­re­sen­ta­tives. It is there­fore crit­i­cal that cit­i­zens en­gage in the pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion process. In the words of the Coun­cil for the Ad­vance­ment of the South African Con­sti­tu­tion, which was an in­ter­ven­ing party in the case, we all need to en­sure that our com­mit­ments to fun­da­men­tal hu­man rights – in par­tic­u­lar act­ing against geno­cide, war crimes and crimes against hu­man­ity, in­clud­ing apartheid – are re­spected and in­deed pri­ori­tised.”

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