Namibia might review ICC membership

Namibia will not hesitate to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) should proposed amendments made by the African Union (AU) not be considered, International Relations Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah has said.

The AU, of which Namibia is a member, has over the years been calling for the Rome Statute to be amended so that cases against sitting leaders in the International Criminal Court can be deferred until their terms end.

“Sitting presidents should not be subject to prosecution because they were democratically elected by the masses to lead them and now out of nowhere you have an international instrument that interferes with the will of the people,” she charged.

Nandi-Ndaitwah, who also serves as the country’s deputy prime minister, said Namibia would not hesitate to pull the plug on the ICC if amendments to some clauses of the Rome Statute are not made as per the call of African Union member states.

“Our President was clear that the ICC is not serving its purpose anymore. They like paying attention to what is happening in Africa but when obvious atrocities happen outside the continent they prefer to remain silent,” said Nandi-Ndaitwah in a telephonic interview.

Kenya’s parliament decided to formally withdraw from the Rome Statute in 2013 – albeit only in principle – after its President Uhuru Kenyatta was indicted for crimes against humanity.

ICC withdrew the charges last year due to a lack of evidence.

Kenyatta was charged after he was accused of allegedly helping to instigate violence that followed Kenya’s December 2007 presidential election, which resulted in the death of more than 1 000 people.

Regarding the Sudan President Omar al-Bashir saga at the recently concluded AU Summit in South Africa, Nandi-Ndaitwah said: “South Africa was just following international protocols.

“Prior to the summit, they gave immunity to all members that attended summit because you cannot decide to host the summit and then divide it by omitting some members.”

The minister said Namibia would have done exactly what South Africa did by allowing al-Bashir to leave the country despite a court order prohibiting him to leave the country if the African Union Summit was hosted here [in Namibia].

She said the AU is primarily irked by the ICC’s practice of indicting sitting statesmen.

Al-Bashir was indicted in 2009 on five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes regarding the situation in Darfur, Sudan, in which over 300 000 people died.

Since its establishment, the ICC has launched investigations on the African continent in eight countries, namely Sudan, Central African Republic, Uganda, Mali, Libya, Ivory Coast and Kenya.

According to the rules, if a member state wishes to withdraw from the Rome Statute, it must write a notification addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

The withdrawal shall take effect one year after the date of receipt of the notification, unless the notification specifies a later date. – New Era

June 2015
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