South Africa plans to leave the International Criminal Court. The announcement came Sunday during the ruling ANC’s National General Council. Earlier, the ruling party had said it believes the court serves no purpose.
The South African government faces criticism for ignoring a court order to arrest Sudan’s president when he visited the country earlier this year.
Obed Bapela said the ICC had “lost its direction” and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) wanted to withdraw the country from it.
The Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, who has been accused of genocide and war crimes, visited South Africa in June and was allowed to leave despite a court order to detain him.
Last week the government asked the ICC for more time to explain why it allowed this. But this weekend the ruling party resolved to leave the court.
Bapela said powerful nations “trample” human rights and pursue “selfish interests”. He added: “South Africa still holds the flag of human rights, we are not lowering it.”
Parliament will now debate ICC membership. The ANC commands a comfortable majority in the legislature, with more than 60% of the vote.
African Union (AU) has termed the International Criminal Court as biased against prosecuting Africans and therefore commending South Africa for taking the initiative to withdraw from the court.
AU has made it clear that it is up to individual nations to make the decision to withdraw or not, with at least 30 African countries being members of the ICC