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South Africa Plans to Leave the ICC After Ignoring Order to Arrest Sudan’s President

South Africa reportedly plans to leave the International Criminal Court, a move that comes a week after the country asked for more time to explain why it failed to detain Sudan’s president earlier this year.
October 11, 2015, 2:36pm
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

South Africa plans to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC), a deputy minister said on Sunday, as the government faces criticism for ignoring a court order to arrest Sudan's president earlier this year.

The ICC has "lost its direction" and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) wants to withdraw South Africa after following certain processes, Obed Bapela, deputy minister in the Presidency, told reporters after a ruling party policy meeting.

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, accused of genocide and war crimes, visited the country in June, but was allowed to leave despite a court order to detain him. The government last week asked the ICC for more time to explain why it allowed this.

Related: Sudan's President Dodges Potential War Crimes Arrest By Hopping on Private Jet

But the ruling party this weekend resolved to leave the ICC, with Bapela saying powerful nations "trample" human rights and pursue "selfish interests."

"South Africa still holds the flag of human rights, we are not lowering it," he said, adding parliament would now debate ICC membership.

The ANC commands a comfortable majority in the legislature of Africa's most advanced economy, with more than 60 percent of the vote.

The ICC, which began functioning in 2002 and is based in the Hague in the Netherlands, has faced criticism because all eight of its official investigations have involved African nations, though preliminary examinations involving countries in Latin America and the Middle East are ongoing. A total of 34 African states are currently party to the ICC.

Speaking at the UN General Assembly in 2013, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn repeated the charges that the ICC disproportionately targets weak African countries while ignoring crimes in wealthier, more powerful nations.

"The manner in which the ICC has been operating has left a very bad impression in Africa," Desalegn said. "It is totally unacceptable."

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Photo via Wikimedia Commons