South Africa announced Thursday that it may withdraw from the International Criminal Court after an outcry over the government’s refusal to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on genocide charges.
“South Africa may as a last resort … consider withdrawing from the ICC. Such a decision will only be taken when South Africa has exhausted all remedies available to it in terms of the Rome Statute,” Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe told reporters.
Bashir, who is wanted by the ICC on genocide charges, flew out of Pretoria last week, despite a judge’s ruling barring his departure, after attending a meeting of the African Union.
A panel of ministers has been put together to discuss the dispute with the ICC while South Africa may also take it up with the International Court of Justice, Radebe said.
The government has argued that because Bashir was attending a summit of the African Union he had immunity from arrest.
On Wednesday the Pretoria High Court dismissed this argument and said the government had been under an obligation to arrest Bashir.
The government has until the end of Thursday to explain to the court why Bashir was allowed to leave — a move that sparked international condemnation by governments and rights groups.