Press release

South Africa: Withdrawal from ICC Undermines International Justice

Freedom House released a statement in response to South Africa’s decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court.


In response to South Africa’s decision to withdraw from the treaty that established the International Criminal Court, Freedom House released the following statement:

“South Africa’s withdrawal from the ICC is a grave error that undermines the international justice system which human rights defenders and governments sought for decades,” said Paul Graham, project director for South Africa. “We urge other African states not to make this same serious error, which will weaken the international commitment to end impunity and to establish the international rule of law.”


The International Criminal Court ( was established under the Rome Statute to prosecute those who commit war crimes or crimes against humanity. When  President Al-Bashir of Sudan traveled to South Africa in 2015, the South African government was ordered by its courts to arrest  him, as required by two ICC warrants charging him with crimes against humanity and other grave offenses. The government ignored the courts, with the ruling African National Congress accusing the ICC of bias against Africa. The government has now formally triggered the year-long withdrawal process, becoming the first signatory state to do so.

Burundi has meanwhile announced its intention to withdraw, but has not made the requisite formal announcement. Thirty-four African countries are parties to the Rome Statute.

South Africa is rated Free in Freedom in the World 2016, Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2016 and Free in Freedom on the Net 2015.