- by cnn
- 28 Nov 2023
South Africa's president, Cyril Ramaphosa, has announced the country's intention to resume efforts to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC) following the issuance of an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin. The ICC indicted Putin in March for his alleged involvement in the Russian abduction of Ukrainian children, leading to the arrest warrant. However, Putin has been invited to a Brics group summit in South Africa (comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) in August, and the Kremlin will decide later whether he will attend.
Ramaphosa stated that the ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), has decided to withdraw South Africa from the ICC primarily due to the perceived manner in which the court handles such issues. South Africa is a signatory to the ICC's founding document, the Rome Statute, and would be obligated to comply with the arrest warrant. However, the government has long criticized the court for what it perceives as double standards.
South Africa initiated the process of leaving the ICC in 2016 following a dispute over whether to arrest the former Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, who visited the country for an African summit while under ICC indictment for genocide and crimes against humanity. However, the withdrawal proceedings were suspended due to legal challenges. The ANC's national executive committee recently released a statement calling for the withdrawal notice to be rescinded, while also advocating for the ratification of a protocol to establish an African Court of Justice and Human Rights.
The confusion emerged as the president's announcement appeared to contradict the ANC's position. Legal experts and observers raised concerns about the inconsistency in the messaging and the implications of South Africa's potential withdrawal from the ICC. Even if South Africa decided to leave the ICC, it would still be bound by its membership obligations, including executing arrest warrants, for 12 months after notifying the ICC of its withdrawal.
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