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US concerned about South Africa quitting ICC

The United States expressed concern on Friday over South Africa’s decision to withdraw its support from the International Criminal Court.

While not itself a member of the court, the United States likes other countries to accept its jurisdiction, seeing it as an arm against the impunity sometimes enjoyed by rogue leaders.

“We’re concerned about this decision,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

“We do think that the ICC has made valuable contributions in the service of accountability in a number of situations and we hope that other governments would share that.”

The decision followed a dispute last year when Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir visited South Africa, despite facing an ICC arrest warrant over alleged war crimes.

South Africa refused to arrest him, saying that as a head of state attending a summit he enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

“There is a view in Africa that the ICC in choosing who to prosecute has seemingly preferred to target leaders in Africa,” South African Justice Minister Michael Masutha told AFP.

The ICC, set up in 2002, has often struggled with a lack of international cooperation, including from the United States, which has signed the court’s treaty but never ratified it.