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25 Apr, 2023 17:38

South Africa vows to quit ICC following Putin warrant

President Cyril Ramaphosa said the governing party’s decision is based on the “unfair treatment” of certain countries by the tribunal
South Africa vows to quit ICC following Putin warrant

The South African government has decided to again attempt a withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC), President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Tuesday. His statement comes as the forthcoming BRICS summit, to be hosted in Durban in August, has been handed a logistical problem by The Hague-based organization’s targeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The decision, according to the president, was reached by the African National Congress (ANC) party after a weekend meeting.

“Yes, the governing party has taken that decision that it is prudent that South Africa should pull out of the ICC,” Ramaphosa said following a joint press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, who is on a diplomatic visit to Pretoria. Largely because of the manner in which the ICC has been seen to be dealing with (these) type of problems.”

Ramaphosa was referring to what he called the “unfair treatment” of certain countries by the tribunal.

South Africa first attempted to withdraw from the ICC in 2016, but the move was revoked following a High Court ruling that found it was unconstitutional.

That decision came after the country was found to have violated its obligations to the ICC by failing to arrest former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during his visit to the country in 2015 for an African leaders’ summit. The former Sudanese leader was facing genocide charges before the court relating to the long-running Dafur conflict.

The latest withdrawal announcement follows the issuance of an arrest warrant for President Putin by the ICC in March. The court has accused the Russian leader of the “unlawful deportation” of children from “occupied areas of Ukraine.”

The charges relate to what Russia says were efforts to evacuate civilians from the predominantly Russian-speaking region of Donbass, which was being heavily shelled by the Ukrainian military.

South Africa, which is set to host leaders from the world’s largest emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – at the BRICS summit in August, would be obliged to enforce the ICC’s warrant for Putin’s arrest as a signatory of the 2002 Rome Statute.

Asked on Tuesday if Pretoria would arrest Putin, Ramaphosa said the matter was “under consideration.” His party secretary Fikile Mbalula said, however, that Putin was welcome in the country any time and that the ICC only serves the “interests of a few.”

Earlier this month, Ramaphosa announced that he would send a delegation to Washington to clarify his “non-aligned” stance on Putin and the situation in Ukraine.

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