Court to rule on ICC withdrawal

Court rules SA's notice of withdrawal from ICC is unconstitutional

South Africa announced in October that it would be pulling out of the court following a dispute over the failure to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who visited the country in 2015 despite an arrest warrant from the ICC over alleged war crimes. Bashir has been indicted by the ICC for crimes against humanity and genocide, but South Africa argued that he was immune from arrest as a head of state attending a continental gathering.

A South African judge has blocked the country's planned withdrawal from the global criminal court (ICC), saying the move is unconstitutional without prior parliamentary approval.

Opposition party Democratic Alliance, which took the government to court, argued that Minister Michael Masutha acted unlawfully by announcing the withdrawal without seeking parliamentary approval.

Mojapelo added that government decisions must be based on "the expressed authority of the constitution".

The ICC has the potential to deliver justice to victims of the world's worst crimes when national courts are unable or unwilling to prosecute.

Judge Phinehas Mojapelo gave the ruling on Wednesday in Pretoria, the country's administrative headquarters ordering that government should revoke it.

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At a minimum, the ruling will delay South Africa's withdrawal from the ICC, which had been scheduled to take effect in October.

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The court did not rule on whether or not South Africa should withdraw from the treaty.

Essentially, the executive will now have to begin the process of withdrawal afresh, if they still wish to do so, and this time they would need to obtain Parliament's approval prior to taking any action.

But on February14, The Gambia told the United Nations that it would remain in the ICC, reversing the previous administration's plan to withdraw from the tribunal. But the ANC, which has ruled South Africa since 1994 after the end of the Apartheid era, has shown signs of cracking under Zuma's scandal-plagued leadership. Though, the government hasn't yet announced whether it will appeal the decision, try to run the withdrawal through parliament, or drop the matter entirely to save face.

Gambia and Burundi also announced previous year that they were withdrawing from the court, but Gambia's new leader reversed that decision earlier this month.

They are accusing ICC of focusing on human right abuse in Africa while neglecting.

South Africa said it was quitting the ICC because membership conflicted with diplomatic immunity laws.

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