South Africa to Leave International Criminal Court

South Africa has accused the International Criminal Court (ICC) of bias and unfairly targeting African leaders and served notice of its intent to withdraw from the Hague-based tribunal.

Justice Minister Michael Masutha told reporters in Pretoria: “The decision to exit the ICC was taken by cabinet this week, a draft law proposing that South Africa will repeal its participation in the Rome Statute will be tabled in Parliament soon.”

The ICC, which tries individuals for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, has been criticized by African nations because nine of the ten investigations it has opened since its formation in 2002 are in Africa.

South African President Jacob Zuma questioned why the ICC didn’t act against Israel for crimes committed against Palestinians or against the U.S. for attacking Iraq on the pretext that it had weapons of mass destruction that were never found.  Burundi is withdrawing from the ICC this week.

South Africa refused to arrest Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir, who has been indicted twice for war crimes and genocide by the ICC.  The ICC indicted him in 2009 and 2010 for his role in atrocities in Sudan’s western Darfur region, where insurgents took up arms in 2003.  As many as 300,000 people have died in the conflict, mainly from illness and starvation, according to the United Nations.

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