INTERNATIONAL relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah says Namibia fully supports Africa's collective withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) as decided by African leaders last week.
Responding to questions at a breakfast meeting with editors in Windhoek yesterday, she said although Namibia was still a party to the Rome Statute, the country supported the principled position of other African leaders for a collective withdrawal from the ICC. At last week's AU summit, African leaders adopted a resolution calling for a collective African withdrawal from the ICC. Some African leaders have accused the court of primarily targeting Africa in pursuing cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. South Africa, The Gambia and Burundi last year announced their intentions to leave the court, which raised speculation that other countries would follow suit.
In 2015, the Namibian Cabinet approved a recommendation by the ruling Swapo party to withdraw the country from the ICC. Information minister Tjekero Tweya at the time said the ministry of international relations would be tasked with reviewing the country's foreign policy. Last year, attorney general Sacky Shanghala also defended the planned withdrawal, saying the country's domestic remedies were sufficient.
Nandi-Ndaitwah yesterday said although the country was still a member of the ICC, its position has always been that countries had the right to withdraw from the Rome Statute, provided that there were strong judicial institutions and systems in place at national level in AU member states.
"While aware that Namibia can effect meaningful change through the Rome Statute, the country supports the collective withdrawal as a principle, fully cognisant of the fact that it is duty-bound to follow the procedures as dictated by its own domestic laws," she emphasised.
She explained that in 2014, the AU passed a resolution and identified specific articles in the Rome Statute that should be amended in order to meet Africa's demands. "One of them is to say the exceeding precedence should not be subjected to the ICC, and we have been saying this in order to maintain peace and stability," she said.
She cited the example of Kenya, when Uhuru Kenyata was campaigning to be president, and there were allegations that he had stoked electoral violence which led to the deaths of a number of people. "But the people of Kenya did not listen to such propaganda, they went ahead and elected Kenyatta and his deputy.
"Now, this is the situation because we do not want to compromise our security and stability, and that is why we say the ICC statute needs to be amended so that sitting presidents should be allowed [to serve], and only be followed after this national responsibility given to them [is over]," she stated.
She added that the ICC refused to bring this issue to the discussion table, and "that is why we can withdraw. When we talk about withdrawal, it is a principle agreed, but we cannot have collective withdrawal because the rules do not allow that. So, that is just to agree on the principle, but then the implementation will be done by individual member states. So, that is where we are with regards to the ICC," she noted. She said the AU had proposed reforms, and "it is out of that that the issue of withdrawal has been put on the table".