Deputy President to lead Committee on SA’s ICC participation

Deputy President to lead Committee on SA’s ICC participation

Deputy President Paul Mashatile will preside over an Inter-Ministerial Committee to consider South Africa’s options regarding the International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The government has made it clear that while it remains a signatory of the Rome Statute, it wants to avoid a repeat of the 2015 Omar Al Bashir incident which saw the ICC making finding that South Africa had failed in its duty to arrest the former Sudanese President when he was in the country.

The uproar is being caused by the upcoming BRICS Summit in Pretoria, which Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to attend.

Meanwhile, South Africa remains a signatory to the Rome Statute.

The ICC issued a warrant of arrest for President Putin for human rights violations in Ukraine.  According to ICC laws, South Africa is mandated to give effect to the arrest warrant.

However, the government believes it has other options to explore, especially given that Russia never ratified the agreement to become a member.

The Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni says Russia is not a signatory of the Rome Statute.

“The Committee will attempt to avert a repeat of the 2015 blunder to arrest former Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir.  South Africa was thrust into the global spotlight after it failed to arrest al-Bashir in accordance with ICC laws.  The international statutory body found the country had failed in its duty to arrest the former Head of State, when he was in the country, a finding echoed by a South African court.  An incident that Ntshavheni describes as embarrassing.”

“That incident was embarrassing to the country and when you have guests, you don’t want to be running around courts … So we will not have a repeat of that incident and that’s why the IMC is considering the options so that we maintain the dignity of our guests. If President Putin comes to South Africa, he will be coming at the invitation of President Ramaphosa and we have a responsibility to make sure that our guests are treated properly. That incident provided lessons for the country and we must make sure that we avoid a repeat of such an embarrassment,” Ntshavheni explains.

Meanwhile, an envoy is in the United States for talks with the Biden administration about South Africa’s diplomatic stance and the Ukraine war. South Africa has maintained a neutral stance in the conflict.

“We cannot nudge Russia alone, we must also nudge the other protagonists in the conflict. The US is the leader of NATO, who are the Maor protagonist in that part so we have sent an envoy to engage on how to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict and it is not because we are afraid of being removed from … it’s because we have a responsibility to ensure that there is peaceful resolution of conflict.”

Ntshavheni has scoffed at threats from the Western Cape provincial government, that their Law Enforcement Advancement Plan Officers will arrest President Putin, should he set foot in the province.

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