South Africa’s High Court [official website] on Wednesday blocked [judgment] the government’s attempt to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website]. High Court Judge Phineas Mojapelo found that the “decision by the national executive to deliver the notice of withdrawal of South Africa from the Rome Statute of the ICC without prior parliamentary approval is unconstitutional and invalid.” Justice Minister Michael Masutha said the denial was mostly procedural. Masutha went on to say that this ruling merely amounted to a delay and that it would not stop [Reuters report] the government’s bid to withdraw.
Earlier this month leaders of multiple African countries announced that they have backed [JURIST report] a “strategy of collective withdrawal” from the ICC. In November JURIST Guest Columnist David Crane of Syracuse University College of Law discussed [JURIST op-ed] the need for the ICC to utilize politics to ensure its future. South Africa officially announced its intent to withdraw from the ICC in October and submitted a bill to withdraw [JURIST reports] in November. A few days after the announcement, Human Rights Watch criticized [JURIST report] South Africa for the decision. Shortly after South Africa’s announcement, the Gambian government announced that it would be leaving the ICC, a decision that has since been reversed [JURIST reports] by the country’s new president. Earlier in October Burundi voted to withdraw [JURIST report] from the ICC amid criticism the court only prosecutes African nationals. Also in October the ICC president stated [JURIST report] that such withdrawals “represent a setback in the fight against impunity and the efforts towards the objective of universality of the Statute.”