The Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act Repeal Bill Must be Withdrawn
9 March 2017
On 14 February 2017, the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services invited the public to make submissions on the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act Repeal Bill (‘Bill’). The Bill envisages South Africa’s withdrawal from the ICC. The final date for submissions was 8 March 2017.
On 1 March 2017 the Helen Suzman Foundation (‘HSF’) wrote to the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Minister TM Masutha. The HSF requested the Minister to withdraw the Bill as it intends to give effect to an act of the Cabinet – to withdraw from the ICC – which act was declared unconstitutional and invalid in the recent decision of the North Gauteng High Court in the case of Democratic Alliance v Minister of International Relations and Cooperation & Others - case no: 83145/2016) in which the HSF were cited as a Respondent.
On 2 March 2017, a second letter was sent by the HSF to the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services requesting the Committee to recommend in its report to the National Assembly that the Bill be withdrawn. If the Bill was not withdrawn, the HSF requested the deadline for submissions to be extended by at least one calendar month, as the time given for public comment – a mere three weeks – is wholly inadequate for a matter of such complexity and importance. The fact that the request for public submissions received little to no publicity or prominence reinforces the HSF’s request for an extension.
Against the background of the recent High Court decision, the HSF would have assumed the Minister and the Committee would have given our requests due consideration. However, as of yesterday, 8 March, the submission date, the HSF had not received a response to our requests. In light of this, the HSF has made submissions to the Committee on the Bill. We reserve our right to supplement our submission if an extension is indeed granted, and we have requested that we be given the opportunity to make oral submissions.
Issued by Chelsea Ramsden on behalf of HSF, 9 March 2017