‘Unconstitutional for SA to withdraw from Rome Statute’
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thus unconstitutional for the minister to unilaterally exit South Africa from the agreement, without Parliament having repealed the agreement first.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.