South Africa: Cabinet to meet to discuss ICC decision on arrest warrant for Russia’s Putin

International relations and co-operation minister Naledi Pandor. File photo.

International relations minister Naledi Pandor has slammed the International Criminal Court’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We had hoped that other forms of warrants would be issued by the ICC because there are many countries and leaders who have practised very serious abuses in situations of conflict but they remain unscathed in terms of the ICC,” said Pandor.

The minister, who was speaking after a meeting with her Sri Lankan counterpart in Pretoria on Wednesday, said the ICC decision was serious and worrying.

On Sunday presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said South Africa had noted the court’s decision and was aware of its legal obligation to comply in the wake of  the Brics summit in August.

It is unclear whether Putin will be attending the summit, taking place in Johannesburg.  

This is not the first time the court has put pressure on South Africa to arrest a sitting head of state.

In 2015 South Africa did not comply with the ICC’s request to arrest former Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir when he was in the country.  

Pandor said the cabinet was expected to discuss the matter.

“Obviously this is a very serious decision by the ICC. We are a member state that has signed on to the ICC. Many countries which should sign on are not members of it.

“This is a worrying aspect which we have raised previously. South Africa will have to look at existing provisions of our legislation and we will also have to have a discussion as cabinet as well as with our colleagues in the Russian Federation to determine the way forward.” 

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