South Africa’s plan to pull out of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was nullified by the country’s High Court Tuesday, which it termed as “unconstitutional and invalid.”
The court was making a ruling on a case filed by the Democratic Alliance (DA), a South African opposition party, which argued that the government made the decision to withdraw from the Hague-based court without seeking the approval of parliament, the BBC reports.
“South Africa does not want to be lumped together with pariah states who have no respect for human rights and who do not subscribe to accountability for those guilty of the most heinous human rights violations,” the DA said in a statement.
Last October, the South African government wrote to the United Nations, notifying it of its intention to leave the ICC due to what it said was the court’s apparent pursuit of “regime change” in Africa.
Not Backing Down
In a quick response, the South African government reaffirmed its commitment to withdraw from the international court, adding that there was a possibility of making an appeal.
Speaking to Reuters after the ruling, South African Minister for Justice Michael Masutha said the government will consider its options after examining the full judgment.
The determination to pull out from the court was made last year after the ICC condemned the South African government for failing to arrest the President of Sudan, Omar Al-Bashir, while attending an African Union Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa’s capital.
President Bashir is wanted by the ICC to answer to charges of crimes against humanity that he allegedly committed during the infamous Darfur war.
Blow to Zuma, Administration
This week’s ruling, which requires the South African government to immediately retract its withdrawal notice, is seen as another major blow to South African President Jacob Zuma, who has now lost three consecutive times in legal challenges related to the international court.
Last year, the government of South Africa lost an appeal against an arrest order issued against President Bashir during the AU summit. Nonetheless, they managed to sneak the Sudanese leader out of the country before he could be arrested.
Some government officials have repeatedly accused the country’s judiciary of “meddling” in political affairs and working in cahoots with the opposition to frustrate the government.
However, South Africa is just one of the many African countries that have already made known their intention to pull out of the ICC.
Last month, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, during the annual African Union summit, the AU supported the call for a collective withdrawal of African countries from the international court.