SAHRC chairman Lawrence Mushwana. File picture: Phill Magakoe
SAHRC chairman Lawrence Mushwana. File picture: Phill Magakoe

SAHRC concerned about SA's attitude to Rome Statute

By African News Agency Time of article published Jul 17, 2016

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Johannesburg - South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) chairman Lawrence Mushwana has asked International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane for a meeting to discuss South Africa’s stance on two important international issues.

Sunday is International Criminal Justice Day which commemorates the coming into effect of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In a letter to Nkoana-Mashabane, Mushwana said the commission was concerned about South Africa’s seemingly waning commitment to the Rome Statute signed by South Africa in 1998, which committed the country to the rule of law and to ending impunity for perpetrators of international crimes. This commitment was a reaffirmation of South Africa’s constitutional commitment to human rights and the rule of law.

The SAHRC was also concerned about South Africa’s abstention from voting on the resolution condemning discrimination and violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity at the 32nd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Mushwana said that in recent months, following government’s failure to arrest and detain Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir during his visit to South Africa in June last year, government had indicated it was seriously reviewing its participation in the Rome Statute.

Bashir had been charged by the ICC for international crimes – crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide – allegedly perpetrated against his own people.

The commission believed that in the absence of a viable alternative mechanism for holding African perpetrators of human rights violations and international crimes accountable for their actions, an exit from the ICC did not bode well for the rule of law, a principle South Africa had committed itself to.

Regarding the 32nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council, Mushwana said the commission had been approached by various civil society organisations over concerns regarding South Africa’s voting patterns at the session.

Upon considering some of the concerns raised, the SAHRC had written to Nkoana-Mashabane on June 30 urging South Africa to vote in support of the resolution condemning discrimination and violence on the basis or sexual orientation and gender identity.

Regrettably, to date the minister had not responded and the commission had learned from media reports that South Africa had abstained from voting.

It was important for South Africa to maintain its leadership role on the continent regarding the protection and promotion of human rights, Mushwana said.

Therefore, the commission requested to engage with the ministry at a round table dialogue to discuss the issues raised in the letter and other related matters.

African News Agency

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