AU withdrawal from ICC not that simple - Human Rights Watch

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South Africas withdrawal is due to take effect a year after the United Nations Secretary General receives notification from government.

JOHANNESBURG – The reality of the African Union purportedly agreeing to mass withdrawal from the International Criminal Court is more complex, argues Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The decision by AU member states after the announced withdrawals by South Africa, Burundi, and The Gambia, to adopt the “ICC withdrawal strategy”, and called for member states to consider implementing its recommendations.

“This is based on text we have seen that, while labelled a draft, reflects the final text, sources close to the negotiations said,” HRW reported.

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But there was also vocal opposition by some ministers to the withdrawal at the AU summit.

The Nigerian foreign minister said that the ICC has “an important role to play in holding leaders accountable”, and that “Nigeria is not the only voice agitating against withdrawal, in fact Senegal is very strongly speaking against it, Cape Verde, and other countries are also against it”.

Nigeria, Senegal, and Cape Verde ultimately entered formal reservations to the decision adopted by heads of state.

Liberia entered a reservation to the paragraph that adopts the strategy, and Malawi, Tanzania, Tunisia, and Zambia requested more time to study it, HRW stated.

Meanwhile, the “strategy” does not actually call for mass withdrawal, based on the text that HRW reviewed.
 

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