South Africa's decision to leave ICC ruled invalid

A court in Pretoria recently ruled against President Jacob Zuma’s decision to withdraw South Africa’s membership from the International Criminal Court.

Feb 23, 2017 12:55 IST
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The South African government’s decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court was declared invalid and unconstitutional by the high court in Pretoria on 22 February 2017.

The court determined that the decision to withdraw from the International court was taken by South African President Jacob Zuma and Minister of Justice Michael Masutha without appropriate approval from the parliament, which amounts to a breach of the separation of powers.

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Key Highlights

• South Africa notified the United Nations of its intent to leave the ICC in October 2016, stating the court’s intention of pursuing a regime change as one of its main reasons to leave.

• The decision was not approved by the leading opposition party in South Africa, the Democratic Alliance (DA), which approached the Pretoria court arguing that the ruling government had to first seek Parliamentary approval.

• In the latest judgment, the court ruled in the favour of DA, calling the ruling government’s action as unconstitutional.

• The court has also ordered the government to revoke its notice of withdrawal.

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Responding on the matter, the Justice Minister, Michael Masutha said that the government still intended to quit the ICC. He further stated that the government would be considering all its options including a possible appeal after studying the full judgement.


• South Africa’s decision to pull out from the ICC followed a dispute over the 2015 visit of the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to South Africa.

• Bashir, who has an ICC arrest warrant over him for alleged war crimes, had come to SA to attend an African Union summit in Johannesburg.

• Despite ICC’s request to arrest him, South African authorities refused to do so.

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