South Africa to review ICC membership

South Africa says it is considering withdrawing its membership of the International Criminal Court (ICC), after a dispute over the country’s failure to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA (JUNE 25, 2015) (SABC) – South Africa’s government will review its membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the wake of a dispute with the court over Pretoria’s failure to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, a cabinet minister said on Thursday (June 25).

The diplomatic row erupted on June 15, when Bashir flew out of South Africa as world powers and activists urged the government to arrest him under a warrant from the global court on charges of masterminding genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region.

“South Africa may as a last resort also consider withdrawing from the ICC. Such a decision will only be taken when South Africa has exhausted all the remedies available to it in terms of the Rome statute of the International Criminal Court,” Jeff Radebe, minister in the presidency, told reporters during a post-cabinet meeting briefing in Cape Town.

Bashir, who was in South Africa for a summit of the African Union, was allowed to leave the country even though a Pretoria court had issued an order banning him from departing until the end of a hearing on his case.

As the row has simmered, top South African officials have said the country should cut ties with the ICC over its alleged bias against Africa. All 36 people indicted by the ICC since 2005 have been African.

A South African judge asked prosecutors on Wednesday (June 24) to consider charging government officials over the decision to allow Bashir to leave.

South Africa’s government was due to issue an affidavit in court on Thursday explaining why it allowed Bashir to go but its contents were not expected to immediately be made public.