Ministers slammed for failing to appear on ICC issue

Justice Minister Michael File Picture: Trevor Samson. © Business Day.
Justice Minister Michael
File Picture: Trevor Samson / Business Day

 

Justice Minister Michael Masutha has come under fire from MPs for sending officials to account before parliament on the failed International Criminal Court withdrawal‚ instead of going to them personally to clarify and answer “political questions“.

The government withdrew its decision to leave the Rome Statute of the International Crimes Court following a High Court decision declaring it invalid and unconstitutional.

Briefing the oversight committee on international relations‚ acting chief state law adviser Ayesha Johaar said the cabinet noted the ruling by the Pretoria High Court. “Cabinet abides by the ruling and has established a technical task team to develop a compliance road map.”

Government policy was not the responsibility of employees of the department but that of politicians‚ COPE leader Mosiuoa Lekota said. Committee chairman Siphosezwe Masango said Masutha was sick and Communications Minister Faith Muthambi was acting in his position. She excused herself from the meeting.

He said Masutha and his international relations counterpart Maite Nkoana-Mashabane would be asked to brief the committee.

DA MP Darren Bergman said South Africa had now been summoned to the Hague to explain why Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir was allowed to leave the country two years ago.

The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) was granted permission last week by the International Criminal Court to make submissions on the court’s inquiry into South Africa’s non-compliance with its obligations.

The ICC decided to convene a hearing on April 7 to discuss whether to find South Africa guilty of not complying with its request to arrest and surrender Al-Bashir.

Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh‚ executive director of the SALC‚ made this announcement at a media briefing on Wednesday convened by the International Commission of Jurists‚ who announced that it had made submissions to South Africa’s parliament‚ calling on the country to stay in the ICC.

This story has been corrected to reflect that the Southern Africa Litigation Centre sought leave to make submissions before the ICC . The centre did not ask the ICC to make a ruling on South Africa’s failure to arrest Al Bashir. It also reflects the correct spelling of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre.

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