The US is not a signatory to the International Criminal Court which keeps George Bush and Barack Obama outside their purview. However European countries are signatories and the ICC, in the 14 years it has been in existence, has only charged Africans of war crimes. Tony Blair and Nicolas Sarkozy and even David Cameron, have escaped scott free and it has never even been contemplated that they be charged. John Howard was as complicit as Tony Blair in furthering George Bush’s war crimes but he does not figure in the ICC’s investigations either. It is hardly surprising that the ICC is perceived – in Africa – as being blatantly anti- African. It is not surprising either that Burundi and now South Africa have signed Instruments of Withdrawal and have informed the UN that they are withdrawing.
South Africa has formally begun the process of withdrawing from the International Criminal Court (ICC), notifying the UN of its decision. South Africa did not want to execute ICC arrest warrants which would lead to “regime change”, a minister said.
Last year, a South African court criticised the government for refusing to arrest Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir. He is wanted by the ICC on charges of genocide and war crimes. Mr Bashir was attending an African Union summit in Johannesburg, when the government ignored an ICC request to arrest him. He denies allegations that he committed atrocities in Sudan’s troubled western Darfur region. …….
“The Republic of South Africa has found that its obligations with respect to the peaceful resolution of conflicts at times are incompatible with the interpretation given by the International Criminal Court,” the document says.
Justice Minister Michael Masutha said at a press conference that the government would table legislation in parliament to withdraw South Africa from the ICC. The Rome Statute, under which the ICC was set up, required the arrest of heads of state for whom a warrant was issued. The consequence of this would be “regime change” and the statute was incompatible with South African legislation which gave heads of state diplomatic immunity, he added.
But the anti-African position of the ICC seems inescapable:
- Came into force in 2002
- The Rome Statute that set it up has been ratified by 123 countries, but the US is a notable absence
- It aims to prosecute and bring to justice those responsible for the worst crimes – genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes
- In the court’s 14-year history it has only brought charges against Africans.