Cape Town – South Africa’s decision to pull out from the International Criminal Court is likely to lead “more African countries into wanting to follow in its footsteps”, a researcher at the Institute of Security Studies has said.
In an interview with News24, Allan Ngari said South Africa’s move was, however, not a surprise.
“South Africa pulling out of the ICC is actually not a surprise. It has been coming for over a year. However, I have to say that it is a huge blow on the fight against impunity. There are going to be more African countries that would follow in its footsteps,” said Ngari.
Ngari said that without any proper mechanism to protect victims of crime across the continent, South Africa’s decision to pull out of the international court was “travesty of justice” as it would have “unintended consequences on victims of international crimes across the African continent”.
The African Union proposed the establishment of the African Criminal Court some few years ago, but up to today, nothing tangible had been put in place.
According to Ngari only nine signatories were on the set up statute regarding the court.
“The AU proposed court is not functioning. There are only about nine countries out of the 53 AU member states that have signed to start that court, meaning that if AU countries pull out of the ICC that would be travesty of justice,” said Ngari.
Reports indicated that two African states, South Africa and Burundi, had so far made official decisions to leave the ICC.
Early this week, Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza signed legislation to allow the east African country to withdraw from the ICC.
Burundi’s decision to quit the Hague based court followed a bitter dispute with the international community over the human rights situation in the East African country.
The east African country was thrown into a deadly violence after Nkurunziza’s controversial decision to pursue a third term last year.
A number of African countries have in recent years threatened to pull out of the ICC, with Namibia reportedly also passing a referendum to pull out of the court last year.
Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe whose country was not part a signatory to the Rome statute has in the past been quoted as criticising the ICC over its prosecution of African leaders.
Last year, Mugabe was quoted saying it was high time Africa set up a criminal court which would seek justice for “serious” war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the West, particularity during the colonial era.
However, some countries such as Malawi lambasted the veteran leader, saying that the continent could not afford to leave the international court.