The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect says South Africa’s decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute and International Criminal Court is a great victory for injustice and impunity.
Executive Director, Dr Simon Adams, who heads the New York-based NGO that works to protect populations from crimes against humanity, also rejected the Government’s argument that its obligations under the Rome Statute brought it into direct conflict with obligations to observe international diplomatic norms and standards, that include immunity.
The United Nations has now confirmed receipt of the letter.
The Secretary General’s spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric says, “I can confirm that the letter has been received and is being processed by the department of legal affairs.”
He further adds that the Secretary-General does regret the decision by the government of South Africa.
“Over the last two decades the world has made enormous strides towards the development of a global system of criminal justice with the ICC at its core and the SG recalls the significant role played by SA in the establishment of the Rome Statute and the ICC within fact SA being on of the first countries to sign on to the Rome Statute.”
Adams characterised the decision as out of step with Nelson Mandela’s philosophy of placing human rights at the centre of South Africa’s foreign policy.
“When Rwanda happened in 1994, at the exact same time of course that South Africa was going through its transition to democracy, the most commonly said thing to people like me living in South Africa in the aftermath of that, was the world doesn’t care about African victims.”
Adams says the ICC does take African victims seriously.
The government has long argued that at times there’s a direct conflict between the pursuit of peace and the pursuit of justice and accountability.
Adams believes the arrest of Sudan’s President Omar al Bashir in Johannesburg last year would not have made the situation in Darfur any worse.
“It wouldn’t have made it worse either, I’m not naïve enough to think that the arrest of one individual will make all the difference to what is obviously a complex, long-standing and very difficult conflict in some way in Darfur.”
He reiterated the point that the ICC remained a court of last resort where domestic jurisdictions were unable to pursue justice, arguing that of the 9 African cases before the court, 6 were referred by government’s themselves.