South African decision to leave ICC ruled unconstitutional

From corruption scandals to semi-regular votes of no-confidence, South African President Jacob Zuma hasn't exactly enjoyed a smooth run in office.

A High Court in South Africa had earlier ruled that the country's decision to withdraw from the ICC is unconstitutional. Judge Phineas Mojapelo stated that the power to conduct worldwide treaties belonged to the executive, but such agreements must go before parliament.

The Democratic Alliance's James Selfe says they find the government's position inexplicable.

The victory may be temporary.

The major opposition party, Democratic Alliance dragged the government to court alleging that government acted unconstitutionally by not seeking approval from the parliament. It criticized the government for trying to "steamroll" over the constitution. "In other words, South Africa's global law obligations are not dependent on the Rome Statute and vice versa", Mojapelo said.

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Pretoria first formally notified the ICC it wanted to withdraw in October, 2016.

South Africa announced in October it had lodged its decision to withdraw with the United Nations, following a dispute over Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir visiting the country.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Mr al-Bashir in 2009 after charging him with five counts of crimes against humanity.

The ICC, founded in 2002, has 124 member states.

The African court system is biased, Mocheche said. It stated that "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".

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

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.

It's an important ruling for worldwide justice both in South Africa and beyond.

There was his huge corruption scandal over "state capture" past year, his freakish presidential address before parliament that devolved into a brawl, three parliamentary votes of no confidence he narrowly escaped, and the other 783 corruption charges he faces.

The government has argued that its obligation to arrest heads of state charged by the ICC impeded its diplomatic and peacekeeping efforts on the continent.

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Legal experts said the issue will come down to politics.


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