The authorities of the Republic of South Africa are unlikely to arrest the president of any state. About this Bloomberg reported two unnamed South African Foreign Ministry officials commenting on the International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant in The Hague against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
South Africa has ratified the Rome Statute and, on that basis, will have to comply with the ICC ruling if Putin comes to the country. However, according to agency sources, the South African government and the ruling party, the African National Congress, are considering all possible options in order to avoid carrying out Putin’s arrest warrant. The official Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Africa has not commented on this.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor, on the country’s state television, said authorities were conducting legal consultations regarding the warrant. “We await an updated legal opinion on this matter,” she said. At the same time, Pandor noted that in South Africa “they are concerned about the situation of the Ukrainian people”.
“What we would like to do is be in a position where we can continue to engage with both countries to convince them of the need for peace,” the South African foreign minister said.
In August 2023, the BRICS summit is to be held in South Africa (the union includes Russia, Brazil, South Africa, China and India), to which, among others, Putin should have been invited , said Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa in Moscow Mzuvukile Maketuka. March 24, Russian President’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov reported that the decision on Putin’s presence at the BRICS summit “has not yet been made”. Previously, Putin had visited the BRICS summit several times, and in 2013 he arrived in South Africa.
On March 19, South African President Vincent Magvenia’s press secretary, commenting on the arrest warrant for Putin, declared that the Republic of South Africa is aware of its legal obligations to the International Criminal Court. At the same time, he stressed that ahead of the BRICS summit, South Africa will continue to “engage with various relevant stakeholders.”
South Africa maintains a neutral position on the military conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Additionally, South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said in January that the country had become less inclined to criticize Moscow and also withdrew its demand for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine.
On March 17, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian mediator Maria Lvova-Belova on suspicion of “illegal deportation” of children from Ukraine. The Kremlin has said Russia does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC and considers its decision “void”. Authorities in some countries that recognize the Rome Statute have announced that they will arrest Putin if he arrives, including German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann has spoken about it. Mauro Vieira, Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs admitted Putin’s arrest on Brazilian territory, while he stressed that the country has no official position regarding the ICC decision. Constitutional Court of Armenia declared which recognizes the obligations arising from the Rome Statute. In turn, Hungary, which has also ratified the Rome Statute, said it would not arrest Putin if he entered the country because the treaty was not incorporated into the Hungarian legal system and it there was no legal basis for the arrest.
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