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There were still ongoing discussions within the government to develop proposals on whether South Africa should retain its membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC).
This was revealed by Justice and Corrections Minister Ronald Lamola as he responded in writing to parliamentary questions from EFF MP Thembi Msane.
Msane asked if the government intended to remove South Africa from the ICC and, if not, what its position was on the issue.
She also asked when the government would officially sever ties with the ICC.
In his response, Lamola said South Africa made the decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in October 2016.
He said South Africa had since sent a written notice of withdrawal from the Rome Statute to the UN secretary general.
Lamola also said the AU made a decision in January 2017, followed by a resolution released in February 2017 encouraging member countries to withdraw from the ICC.
He said that in addition to South Africa, two other AU members, Burundi and The Gambia, have also indicated their intention to withdraw from the Rome Statute in 2016.
However, The Gambia reversed its decision immediately after a newly elected government came to power in February 2017, while Burundi became the first country to withdraw its membership in the ICC.
Lamola also said that the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria in February 2017, unanimously ruled that South Africa’s withdrawal notice to the UN was unconstitutional and invalid without prior parliamentary approval, and ordered the government to rescind the notification with immediate effect.
“In accordance with the court ruling, the South African government revoked its notice of withdrawal from the Rome Statute in March 2017.”
He said the international crimes bill, introduced to parliament in 2017, which seeks to remove South Africa from the ICC, was still on the portfolio committee in parliament.
The minister explained that many developments within the ICC have taken place, including the adoption of the “Article 97 (c) Consultation Agreement” by the Assembly of States Parties in December 2017.
The agreement, which was adopted in response to concerns raised by South Africa, provides for a process for states to consult with the ICC regarding a request for cooperation.
The African Union’s determination to reform or transform the ICC from within rather than through withdrawals and the failure to provide an African alternative court to the ICC are some of the notable developments, the minister said.
“As a result of these developments, discussions are underway between the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation with a view to developing proposals on the accession of South Africa at the ICC.
“These proposals will go to Cabinet and, once approved, will move the issue forward,” Lamola said.
He said South Africa remains a full member of the ICC with all the rights and obligations that fall on all members of the Rome Statute.
“The implementation of Law 27 of 2002 on the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court remains in full force. “
SA is still discussing its membership in the ICC
SourceSA is still discussing its membership in the ICC