Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] criticized South Africa [press release] Monday for its decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website]. The rights group called the move a blow to the country’s post-apartheid reconstruction and the country’s stated commitment to justice for atrocity crimes. Richard Dicker, International Justice director at HRW said:
South Africa’s withdrawal would be a huge reversal of its role as a leader promoting victims’ rights and the values in its post-apartheid constitution. It’s also unclear whether the South African government followed its own laws, not least because it did not consult parliament.
South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane announced Friday that South Africa had submitted a notice to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon alerting the UN of the country’s intent to withdraw from the ICC [JURIST report].
Earlier this month Burundi similarly voted [JURIST report] to withdraw from the ICC amid criticism the court only prosecutes African nationals. Vice President Gaston Sindimwo of Burundi previously announced [JURIST report] the country’s decision to withdraw from the ICC, stating that his government is “ready to face the consequences.” Earlier this month the ICC president stated [JURIST report] that such a withdrawal “represent[s] a setback in the fight against impunity and the efforts towards the objective of universality of the Statute.” Last July an African Union (AU) [official website] advisory board accused [JURIST report] the ICC of narrowly focusing its investigations on African government leaders and recommended that African nations consider withdrawing their membership. Should South Africa and Burundi follow through with their recent decisions, they will be the first countries to officially leave the ICC. Kenya has also expressed its intention to move forward with withdrawal.