Slide background
Slide background

Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

SAHRC: SA has constitutional obligation to respect international law


Attention: Editors and Reporters
Friday, 7 July 2017
The South African Human Rights Commission (the SAHRC or Commission) notes the judgment handed down by the International Criminal Court, finding that the South African Government had violated the Rome Statute for failing to arrest Sudanese President, Omar Al Bashir, for crimes against humanity.
South Africa signed and ratified the Rome Statute in 1998 and thereby joined with other state parties in affirming its commitment to the rule of law and to ending impunity for perpetrators of international crimes.
South Africa’s decision to ratify the Rome Statute and to subject itself to the jurisdiction of the ICC was informed by the fact that the ICC is the only permanent criminal court in the world to provide justice to perpetrators of international crimes.  In ratifying the Convention, the Government committed the country to respect to the principles of the centrality of human rights in international relations, to the primacy of access to justice and respect for international law, and to the peaceful resolution of conflicts.
South Africa’s commitment to the rule of law is entrenched by both our Constitution and by our commitments to international instruments.  The country’s commitment to the above principles is further informed by its history of crimes against humanity committed by the Apartheid government against the majority of South Africans.  South Africa thus has a moral and legal duty to ensure the protection of the rule of law and to contribute to global efforts aimed at ensuring that similar crimes against humanity do not play out in other countries in the world, especially on our continent.  Additionally, in 2002 Parliament domesticated the Rome Statute, making it law in line with Section 231 (4) of the Constitution, and as such, it is binding and must be enforced.
South Africa has a crucial role to play in supporting international efforts for human rights to be investigated and for perpetrators to be brought to justice.  This is central to South Africa’s constitutional and foreign policy commitment to uphold human rights and the rule of law domestically and internationally.  In addition, is central to the Commission’s mandate in terms of Section 13 of the SAHRC Act and our mandate to ensure that South Africa complies with international human rights obligations, including the Rome Statute.
The Commission thus welcomes the ICC’s ruling and strongly urges the South African government to bear in mind its constitutional obligations and the ICC’s ruling with respect to future compliance with international law.


Issued by the South African Human Rights Commission

Gail Smith, Spokesperson, 0609883792, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Gushwell Brooks, Communications Co-ordinator, 0826458573, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The South African Human Rights Commission.

Follow the SAHRC

About us

The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

Braampark Forum 3, 33 Hoofd Street, Braamfontein

011 877 3600 (Switchboard)

Sign- up for our monthly Pfanelo newsletter