South African police say they cannot investigate crimes against humanity committed in Zimbabwe because Harare is not a signatory of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
The SAPS was ordered by the Supreme Court of Appeal to investigate alleged crimes against humanity in Zimbabwe because international and domestic legislation compelled it to.
The Southern Africa Litigation Centre and the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum went to court arguing that South African authorities should arrest Zimbabwean officials identified in the torture of opposition activists, but the National Prosecution Authority and the police refused saying it was impossible or impractical to investigate crimes committed in Zimbabwe.
The Supreme Court of Appeal upheld an earlier high court ruling that South Africa, as a signatory to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, had a duty to investigate the allegations.
According to Business Day police have filed an application with the Constitutional Court arguing that the Rome Statute did not create universal jurisdiction and was not binding to non-member states such as Zimbabwe.
“At most the statute creates a network extending between its member states,” Jakobus Meier, an attorney who represents national police commissioner Riah Phiyega said. “The statute can do no more than bind its member states. Crucially, it does not purport to authorise interference with the sovereignty of non-members.”
Zimbabwe is not a signatory to the Rome Statute which means that President Robert Mugabe cannot be hauled before the ICC.
The United States is also not a signatory.