Although a close partner of Moscow, Pretoria is legally bound to execute the summons of the International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin has thrown a turnkey of an upcoming BRICS summit in South Africa in August, a spokesman for South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday.
As a signatory to the 2002 Rome Statute, South Africa is obligated to enforce the ICC’s arrest warrant against Putin. However, the country is also hosting this year’s BRICS summit, where the leaders of the world’s biggest emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – are due to meet.
“All heads of state should attend the summit. But now we have a key in the form of this ICC warrant,” Ramaphosa spokesman Vincent Magwenya told reporters.
“What that dictates is that there are further commitments on how this is going to be handled, and those commitments are ongoing,” Magwenya continued. “Once they have been concluded, the necessary announcements will be made.”
Ramaphosa’s government has been aware of the dilemma surrounding the warrant since it was issued, with Magwenya declining last month to say whether Pretoria would enforce it. ramaphosa announcement Tuesday that he would send an envoy to Washington to clarify his “non Aligned” position on the Ukrainian conflict.
South Africa and Russia have been close partners since the Soviet Union backed the anti-apartheid African National Congress, now led by Ramaphosa. Under his leadership, South Africa refused to condemn the Russian military operation in Ukraine or impose sanctions on Moscow, despite the country’s military taking part in joint exercises with Russian and Chinese forces earlier. This year.
Pretoria has its own problems with the ICC and was reprimanded by the court in 2017 for failing to arrest former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he visited the country in 2015 for an African leaders’ summit. Following the incident, South African officials asked to step down from the court, a decision that was later overturned after a High Court ruling determined such a move was unconstitutional.
In issuing the warrant, the court accused Putin and Russian Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova of having “illegal deportation” of children from “occupied areas of Ukraine”. The charges refer to Russia’s efforts to evacuate civilians from areas – mainly in the predominantly Russian-speaking region of Donbass – bombarded by the Ukrainian military.
Russia – which, like the United States, China and India, does not recognize the tribunal’s authority – rejected the mandate because “null and void from a legal point of view.”
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