International legal relations
The main functions of the Chief Directorate: International Legal Relations in the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development are to identify and research legal questions that relate to matters pertaining to the administration of justice between South Africa and other states/bodies/institutions.
The chief directorate is involved in direct liaison and negotiations at administrative and technical level with foreign states to promote international legal cooperation, and for the possible conclusion of extradition and mutual legal-assistance agreements. The chief directorate also aims to establish greater uniformity between the legal systems of southern African states, especially with the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The chief directorate coordinates human-rights issues at international level under the auspices of the United Nations and the African Union.
The functions of the chief directorate are divided into eight broad categories:
- regular liaison with SADC states
- coordinating all Commonwealth matters pertaining to the administration of justice
- interacting with other international bodies, such as the UN, the Hague Conference and the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law
- interacting with foreign states outside the SADC region
- preparing Cabinet and Parliament documentation for the ratification of human-rights treaties, including report-writing
- processing requests for extradition, mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, interrogatory commissions and service of process
- processing requests for maintenance in terms of the Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders Act, 1963 (Act 80 of 1963).
International Criminal Court (ICC)
South Africa was one of the proponents of the negotiation and adoption of the Rome Statute of the ICC in 1998, creating the first permanent international criminal tribunal to combat impunity for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, namely crimes of genocide, crimes against
humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.
South Africa promulgated the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the ICC Act, 2002 (Act 27 of 2002). The Act provides for a framework to:
- ensure the effective implementation of the Rome Statute of the ICC in South Africa
- ensure that South Africa conforms with the obligations set out in the statute
- address the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression
- address the prosecution in South African courts of persons accused of having committed crimes in South Africa and beyond the borders of the country in certain circumstances
- deal with the arrest of certain persons accused of having committed crimes and their surrender to the ICC in certain circumstances
- enhance cooperation between South Africa and the ICC
- negotiate extradition and mutual legal-assistance agreements with other countries and international bodies.
Source: South Africa Yearbook 2011/12
Editor: D Burger. Government Communication and Information System
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