South Africa initiates process to leave International Criminal Court

By bbc
Uhuru Kenyatta and Jacob Zuma

According media reports, South Africa has commenced the process of retreating from the International Criminal Court (ICC), on grounds the court continues to display bias against African countries.

Last year, South Africa refused to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who was attending an Africa Union Submit in Johannesburg despite an arrest warrant slapped on him by the ICC on charges of genocide and war crimes.

Mr Bashir denies allegations he committed atrocities in Sudan's troubled western Darfur region.

Several media outlets have obtained a copy of the "Instrument of Withdrawal", signed by South Africa's foreign minister.

The documents read "The Republic of South Africa has found that its obligations with respect to the peaceful resolution of conflicts at times are incompatible with the interpretation given by the International Criminal Court,"

Neither South Africa nor the UN have officially confirmed the media reports.
There are also conflicting legal opinions as to whether South Africa can leave the ICC without parliamentary approval.

Last year, South African warned it might leave the ICC.

The reported decision to leave the ICC comes a week after the South African President Jacob Zuma visited Kenya, a country that has been highly critical of the ICC ever since the prosecutor charged its President Uhuru Kenyatta with crimes against humanity.

He denied the charges, and the trial later collapsed due to lack of evidence.

Also two weeks ago Burundi became the first country to express its intent to pull out of the ICC - a decision described by the court as "a setback in the fight against impunity".

Previously, the African Union has urged member states not to co-operate with the ICC, accusing it of bias against Africa.

The 124-member ICC opened in 2002. It is the first legal body with permanent international jurisdiction to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.