The executive disregarded the people of South Africa when it decided to withdraw from the International Criminal Court, the DA argued in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.
“Government had to involve the public in such a fundamental matter involving human rights,” advocate Steven Budlender told the court.
Budlender argued that the executive was in such a rush to withdraw from the ICC’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, that it failed to call for public involvement. He said it had assumed for itself the authority to make such a decision.
The executive did not have a right to withdraw from treaties and only Parliament could make that decision.
“There has never been any suggestion by Parliament that it is the executive that can unbind South Africa from its treaties.”
He said the decision to withdraw was unconstitutional and would have negative consequences for the country’s reputation and the ICC, and more countries would follow suit.
He said the court had to consider that the treaty had been written into domestic laws.
Last month, the Constitutional Court dismissed the DA’s application for direct access to challenge the decision.
On October 21, Justice Minister Michael Masutha told reporters that South Africa had initiated the process of withdrawing from the ICC by notifying the United Nations of its intention to revoke its ratification of the Rome Statute.
The decision followed several court judgments that the government violated the law by not arresting ICC-indicted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during his visit to South Africa in June last year. The ICC wants him to stand trial on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.[Source: News24]