‘African countries need to expedite process of forming Africa Criminal Court’

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Former President Thabo Mbeki says African countries need to expedite the process of forming the Africa Criminal Court which adheres to the Rome Statute. This comes as South Africa faces the challenge of inviting Russian President Vladimir Putin- to attend the BRICS Summit it will host in August this year- with a warrant for Putin’s arrest currently issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Putin has been charged with war crimes linked to the removal of children from Ukraine into Russia by invading Russian forces. Mbeki says South Africa cannot invite Putin and then arrest him.

“I do not think that the South African government would ever agree to arrest President Putin, because of its membership of this ICC process. I don’t think that will happen. Brics countries must agree either to hold the summit- chaired by South Africa, in one of the Brics countries- outside South Africa, or hold it virtually. Because i’m quite sure, we can’t say to President Putin, please come to South Africa, and then arrest him. At the same time, we can’t say come to South Africa, and not arrest him- because we’re defying our own law- we can’t behave as a lawless government.”

ICC Prosecutor stands by warrant of arrest issued for Putin:

Meanwhile, the former President says he doubts that South Africa sent weapons to Russia, using the Lady R, a US sanctioned Russian vessel, which docked in Simon’s Town last December. This follows an uproar caused by utterances by US Ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety- saying that he is certain weapons were sent by South Africa to Russia in December last year.

Russia started its invasion of Ukraine in February last year but has faced fierce resistance from Kyiv. President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced an inquiry into the arms matter, by a retired judge. Mbeki has told the SABC that the Russian weapons industry is far more sophisticated than any weapons produced in South Africa.

“The law in South Africa, does not allow for the export of weapons to countries that are in conflict- so, I doubt it, I don’t think it happened. If it happened, whoever is responsible must be criminally charged. The second thing I would say- as far as I know, the South African armaments industry does not produce the sophisticated weapons that the Russians are using. There’s no weapons that the Russians would want to buy from South Africa.”

Africa Day | SABC News one-on-one with Thabo Mbeki: