‘Un­con­sti­tu­tional for SA to with­draw from Rome Statute’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - MO­GO­MOTSI MAGOME

SOUTH Africa will not be com­plicit in ef­fect­ing forced regime change in other coun­tries by try­ing heads of state vis­it­ing the coun­try, says Jus­tice Min­is­ter Michael Ma­sutha.

He said yes­ter­day that abid­ing by its obli­ga­tions as a sig­na­tory of the Rome Statute and the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court was not aligned with do­mes­tic laws which of­fered diplo­matic im­mu­nity to visit- ing heads of state.

His com­ments came af­ter the coun­try gave no­tice of its in­ten­tion to with­draw from the Rome Statute, a move that re­ceived mixed re­ac­tion in the coun­try and across the world.

The move fol­lows an ad­verse judg­ment of the Supreme Court of Ap­peal which found the gov­ern­ment was obliged to ar­rest Su­danese pres­i­dent Omar al-Bashir when he vis­ited South Africa to at­tend an AU sum­mit last year.

South Africa be­comes the sec­ond African coun­try this week to in­di­cate its in­ten­tion to with­draw from the ICC, af­ter Bu­rundi signed a de­cree to with­draw on Tues­day .

“The is­sue of pros­e­cut­ing in South Africa sit­ting heads of state from other coun­tries can only im­ply that South Africa chooses to be com­plicit in the prac­tices of forced regime change. This would have ef­fec­tively been the con­se­quence of try­ing a sit­ting head of state that had vis­ited in good faith, or landed on our shores in good faith to at­tend an in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence,” said Ma­sutha.

He also an­nounced that the gov­ern­ment would with­draw its ap­peal of the SCA judgement set down for a hear­ing at the Con­sti­tu­tional Court on Novem­ber 22.

South Africa was still com­mit­ted to hold ac­count­able those who had com­mit­ted crimes against hu­man­ity and other se­ri­ous crimes ac­count- able, said Ma­sutha.

The gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion has been crit­i­cised by op­po­si­tion par­ties.

The DA said it would chal­lenge the de­ci­sion in court as the ex­ec­u­tive did not have the au­thor­ity to take a uni­lat­eral de­ci­sion on the mat­ter.

“Sec­tion 231 of the con­sti­tu­tion is clear that bind­ing in­ter­na­tional agree­ments be­come law in the Repub­lic upon rat­i­fi­ca­tion by the Na­tional As­sem­bly ( NA) and the Na­tional Coun­cil of Prov­inces (NCOP),” said the party yes­ter­day.

“It is thus un­con­sti­tu­tional for the min­is­ter to uni­lat­er­ally exit South Africa from the agree­ment, with­out Par­lia­ment hav­ing re­pealed the agree­ment first.

“Fur­ther, there has been no pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on this de­ci­sion and thus it flies in the face of the Pro­mo­tion of Ad­min­is­tra­tive Jus­tice Act,” the DA said.

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