ICC President Urges SA, Burundi To Reconsider Withdrawal

Caroline Theuri Oct 26, 2016 at 08:01am

October 26, 2016 at 08:01 am | News

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Caroline Theuri

October 26, 2016 at 08:01 am | News

The President of the Assembly to the State Parties to the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court (ICC) Sidiki Kaba (pictured) is asking Burundi and South Africa to reconsider their positions on withdrawing from the Hague-based court.

In a statement on the ICC website Monday, Kaba expressed his concern that the withdrawal by the two member member states will only encourage other African countries to follow suit:

The President of the Assembly is concerned that these disturbing events could pave way for other African States Parties to withdraw from the Rome Statute system. He urges all States Parties to work together in fighting impunity for the most heinous crimes that shock the conscience of humanity, namely genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes of aggression.

Kaba also insists that withdrawal from the ICC would bar victims of crimes against humanity from getting justice, All States Parties should support the International Criminal Court to ensure its effectiveness and credibility in order to safeguard universal justice to all victims of mass crimes.” 

The ICC announcement comes four days after the European Union (EU) expressed regret Friday on South Africa’s and Burundi’s decisions to withdraw from the ICC.

“The European Union deeply regrets the Republic of South Africa’s decision to initiate its withdrawal from the Rome Statute. We equally note with deep concern that Burundi has formalized steps to withdraw from the Rome Statute.

“Until now, no State has ever withdrawn from the Rome Statute,” reads a press release from the  High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Commission Federica Mogeherini.

The EU, however, maintains hope that the withdrawal decisions will be reversed.

“South Africa played a significant role in the establishment of the ICC and was one of the first signatories of the Rome Statue. We will continue to engage with both countries on how they can remain partners to the Rome Statute,” Mogherini, who is also the vice president of the European Commission, added.

South Africa is the second country to withdraw from the ICC, citing conflicts between its domestic law regarding diplomatic immunity and that of the ICC.

South Africa, as an ICC member state, refused to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, when he attended the 25th African Union summit last year.

The Sudanese head of state has two pending arrest warrants from the court for his failure to attend hearings for 10 counts of crime in the Darfur, Sudan, conflict between 2003 and 2008.

Based on a precedent ruling by Kenya in 2011, all 124 member states are obligated to immediately apprehend an ICC suspect who has flouted an arrest warrant and transfer him/her to the ICC, regardless of status, reinforcing Article 27 of the Rome Statute treaty.

As part of the ICC withdrawal process, South Africa sent a procedural letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, entitled, “Instrument of Withdrawal,” which will take a year to process.

South Africa’s intention to withdraw from the ICC came days after Burundi’s statement of withdrawal.

According to Newsweek, the East African country disagrees with the ICC’s investigation of the 2015/2016 post-election violence, which left more than 400 people dead and more than 300,000 displaced.

African countries of late have expressed their dissatisfaction with ICC. As Face2Face Africa previously reported:

South Africa’s decision to withdraw from the ICC echoes the position of many African countries that have accused the court of discrimination. In 2009, several African countries, including Senegal, Djibouti, and the Comoros, called on Africa to withdraw en masse from the ICC to protest allegations that the court unfairly targets African countries.

And according to DuetscheWelle.com, the ICC is currently investigating nine African cases out of a total of 10.

Other countries that have been reluctant to join the ICC since its inception 18 years ago include the two major world super powers: the United States and China.

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