South Africa pulls out of ICC

Human Rights Watch said: "South Africa's proposed withdrawal from the worldwide criminal court shows startling disregard for justice from a country long seen as a global leader on accountability for victims of the gravest crimes".

He said the statute conflicted with South Africa's Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act, but that the government remained committed to the fight against impunity.

South Africa came into conflict with the court last June when a local human rights group obtained a court order for the arrest of Sudanese tyrant Omar al-Bashir at an African Union (AU) summit in Johannesburg.

South Africa Justice Minister Michael Masutha speaks to reporters about the planned withdrawal from the ICC.

Any move to leave the tribunal would take effect one year after notice is formally received by the United Nations Secretary General.

Government continues to face legal heat over its decision to allow Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir entry into the country past year.

Whilst 34 African nations voluntarily signed up to the court's jurisdiction, in recent years a handful of governments have decided their idea of justice does not match that which is set out in the Rome Statute.

The country joins the central African nation of Burundi in imminently leaving the court.

"Instead the ICC has allowed non-member states to dictate and interfere with its work to suit their own imperialist agendas".

"It will promote global human rights and the peaceful resolution of conflicts on the African continent".

"There is a view in Africa that the ICC in choosing who to prosecute has seemingly preferred to target leaders in Africa", Masutha added to AFP.

South Africa did not want to execute ICC arrest warrants which would lead to "regime change", a minister said.

On Friday, the public broadcaster SABC published a letter entitled "Instrument of Withdrawal" outlining South Africa's withdrawal plan.

The country announced on Friday it was quitting the court because it conflicted with diplomatic immunity laws. The violence has been going on since a year ago, when President Pierre Nkurunziza chose to seek a third term, a move some have called unconstitutional.

"The presidency of the republic. calls on African leaders and the people of Africa who are still members of the ICC to take a collective step in withdrawing from the ICC", a presidency statement said.

Many in the worldwide community cheered when the treaty to create the ICC, the Rome Statute, was adopted in 1998 as a way to pursue some of the world's worst atrocities: genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Only Africans have been charged in the six cases that are ongoing or about to begin, though preliminary ICC investigations have been opened elsewhere in the world. The United States, China, Russia and Israel are among non-members.

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