South African bishops urge reversal of International Criminal Court move

The Catholic Bishops of South Africa have urged the government to reconsider its decision to pull away from the International Criminal Court, as the country’s move leads to more African nations quitting the international justice body, all amid claims that it disproportionately targets Africans.

As The Irish Catholic went to press this week, the South African proposal to quit had prompted two other African nations, Burundi and The Gambia, to follow suit. Both Kenya and Namibia have signalled that they might also withdraw.

Since its establishment in 2002, the ICC has been involved in 10 major international investigations, all but one of these being Africa-based, and it has only brought charges against African leaders.

South Africa’s Justice Minister Michael Masutha has confirmed that a bill on his country’s withdrawal will be placed before parliament shortly.

In a direct message to government, the bishops responded: “We appeal to the government to reconsider its decision and remain within ICC until such a time that Africa has developed a credible and effective regional court with the capacity and will to demand accountability of all state officials and leaders, particularly the serving heads of governments.