Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s Foreign Minister, has stated that her government will need to hold discussions regarding the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for Russian President Vladimir Putin before making any decisions, The Star reported.
Putin is expected to attend the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) summit in August, which is set to take place in South Africa.
The ICC had recently issued an arrest warrant for Putin over accusations of war crimes in Ukraine. Being a signatory to the Rome Statute, which established the court, South Africa is legally obligated to arrest and bring Putin to trial.
Pandor noted that before taking any action, South African authorities will first engage in discussions with their Russian counterparts concerning the warrant.
Pandor confirmed Putin’s invitation to the summit stands, but the ICC warrant is a “matter of concern,” calling for a discussion “in the context of cabinet” to be held as soon as possible, so that the country decides how to respond.
In 2015, the South African government faced criticism for allowing former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to leave the country despite an arrest warrant issued by the ICC. Bashir had visited South Africa to attend an African Union summit, and the government claimed that he had diplomatic immunity.
South Africa recently took part in naval drills with Russia and China that some experts had viewed as “tantamount to joining [Russia’s] war against Ukraine.”
Moreover, South Africa was recently criticized for its neutral stance in the Russia-Ukraine conflict and for abstaining from the United Nations’ resolution condemning Russia in this matter
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova, for their alleged involvement in deporting Ukrainian children, which are considered serious crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
The 123 member states that have ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, one of which is South Africa, must immediately take action upon receiving an arrest warrant request for a person affiliated with the state party. This implies that Putin may fear traveling abroad, as he may be arrested and prosecuted in any of these countries.