President Cyril Ramaphosa has said the governing African National Congress (ANC) party had resolved that South Africa should quit the International Criminal Court, which last month issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The warrant against Putin in March means Pretoria, due to host the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) bloc summit this year, would have to detain him on arrival.
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“Yes, the governing party … has taken that decision that it is prudent that South Africa should pull out of the ICC,” Ramaphosa said during a news conference co-hosted with the visiting President of Finland Sauli Niinisto.
Ramaphosa said the decision, which follows a weekend meeting of the ANC, was reached “largely” because of what is perceived as the court’s unfair treatment of certain countries.
“We would like this matter of unfair treatment to be properly discussed, but in the meantime, the governing party has decided once again that there should be a pull-out,” he said.
The arrest warrant against Putin followed accusations that the Kremlin unlawfully deported Ukrainian children.
On whether South Africa would arrest Putin, Ramaphosa said “that matter is under consideration”.
A continental powerhouse, South Africa has refused to condemn the invasion of Ukraine that has largely isolated Moscow on the international stage, saying it wants to stay neutral and preferred a dialogue to end the war.
It is not the first time South Africa has attempted to withdraw from the ICC.
It attempted to do so in 2016 following a dispute a year earlier when Sudan’s then-President Omar al-Bashir visited the country for an African Union summit. It refused to arrest him despite the al-Bashir facing an ICC arrest warrant for alleged war crimes.
The controversial decision to pull out was, however, revoked when a domestic court ruled such a move would have been unconstitutional.