The Democratic Alliance (DA) has challenged the government’s decision to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC). The decision to withdraw will be challenged at the Constitutional Court, the party has stated. DA Federal Executive Chairperson, James Selfie, said that:
“The decision to withdraw from [the] ICC is inherently irrational and unconstitutional.”
State dissatisfaction with the ICC began with a variety of court judgements pertaining to the government’s violation of ICC orders, to which they are legally bound. Most prominent of these was the refusal to arrest the Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, during his visit in June of 2015.
al-Bashir was indicted by the ICC in 2009 for crimes against humanity, including torture, rape and war crimes, among other crimes.
Calls for his arrest were met with condemnation of neo-colonialism and violations of sovereignty. Back in 2015, the ANC expressed its intent to withdraw from the ICC but formalised that intent this year on the 21st of October. The withdrawal from the Rome Statute, to which South Africa is a signatory, is allegedly due to perceived incompatibility between the goals of the Republic of South Africa and the ‘interpretation’ of the ICC. The withdrawal document is attached below:
The DA seeks to challenge the withdrawal along the lines that it is unconstitutional.
The South African Constitution ensures a defence of human rights, and a withdrawal from the ICC puts these human rights at risk. The party argues that the decision is fundamentally irrational and unconstitutional. The DA filed a Constitutional Court application to render the decision irrational on the 24th of October. The case was planned to be heard alongside a government appeal in regards to its failure to enforce South African law in not arresting al-Bashir.