South Africa’s decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court, ICC, was unconstitutional, a court in the country’s administrative capital, Pretoria, ruled Wednesday.
South Africa announced in October that it was leaving the ICC on the grounds that its membership hampered its efforts to help resolve conflicts in Africa.
The main opposition Democratic Alliance took the government to court, arguing that Justice Minister Michael Masutha acted unlawfully by announcing the withdrawal without seeking parliamentary approval.
Judge Phineas Mojapelo said the power to conduct international treaties belonged to the executive, but that such agreements must go before parliament.
In 2016, Burundi, South Africa and The Gambia, expressed their intentions to withdraw from the court.
But on February14, The Gambia told the UN that it would remain in the ICC, reversing the previous administration’s plan to withdraw from the tribunal.
Subsequently, Namibia, Kenya and Uganda also began to contemplate withdrawing from ICC.
The court has repeatedly been criticised by African states as an inefficient, neo-colonial institution of the Western powers to try African countries.
This argument is supported by the fact that nine of 10 situations under investigation, with three others under preliminary investigations, involve African countries.
African state parties to the Rome Statute make up the biggest regional membership, comprising 34 of the 124 members.
From 2009, African countries have called for collective withdrawal from the ICC but some countries have pushed back.
Nigeria, Senegal, Cape Verde and some other countries resolved to remain with the ICC.
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