Cabinet to review SA’s ICC membership

Cabinet to review SA’s ICC membership

FILE PICTURE: Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe. (Photo: GCIS)

The South African government is set to start formal engagements with the International Criminal Court, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said on Thursday, and confirmed that the country was also reviewing its membership of the tribunal.

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Briefing journalists on the outcomes of Wednesday’s fortnightly cabinet meeting, Radebe defended South Africa’s failure to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he attended the African Union summit in Johannesburg earlier this month.

Radebe said it had to balance its obligations to the ICC with its obligations to the African Union and the matter of diplomatic immunity.

The minister said South Africa had accepted an invitation prior to the AU summit to consult with the ICC over article 97 of the Rome Statute. A meeting was also scheduled to take place while the summit was underway, but the ICC issued an order that article 97 consultations had been concluded and that Bashir must be arrested.

South Africa intends to lodge a dispute with the ICC.

“South Africa will enter into formal negotiations with the ICC on the matter with the view to understand the ICC’s reasoning on how it interprets article 97 [of the Rome Statue,” Radebe said.

“South Africa also wants to understand, from the ICC, what its obligations are in terms of article 98 (2) to a requested state which cannot in violation of an international obligation execute a warrant of arrest.”

Government was set to appoint a team of ministers to start formal engagements with the ICC.

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